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The Greatest Hits Of Marvin Hagler’s Career

…Seemingly out of nowhere, news of Marvin Hagler’s death broke. As stoically, as Hagler spoke, using his words like his punches, making each one count, so was news of his passing, in a brief statement made on a fan page, that explained in closing that the family wanted privacy.

So why did Hagler mean so much to so many?

To unpack that we have to start with the fact that Hagler personified toughness. Hagler looked like the meanest boot camp instructor, one who had a heart of gold, but the intensions to take you to limits you didn’t know you could go to. Someone who if boxing was a team sport would be a first-round draft pick, and you’d hate to play against.

A decorated boxer, Hagler, from the blue-collar suburb of Boston, Brockton, Mass., embodied everything you could ever want from a working-class fighter. Hard-nosed, unapologetic, a fighter who the politics, seemingly never favored, and yet still emerged dignified.

Hagler amassed a 54-fight amateur career per Sports Illustrated, which listed his record as 52-2 with 43 KOs.

The majority of Hagler’s career was as follows, being avoided and not getting the respect he deserved.

Hagler was a loner, with Goody & Pat Petronelli, serving as his trainers and managers, holding training camps in the remote Provincetown, Mass. Running in army boots, and essentially putting himself through mental and physical torture to put his opponent through it on fight night.

The lasting legacy of Hagler is the blue-collar boxer, who created an aura of intimidation. Hagler was Mike Tyson, before Mike Tyson. Hagler wanted to beat up the guy everyone who people were afraid of and do it in front of everyone. Hagler’s running in military boots started a trend nationwide of running in those military boots simply because people wanted to be a little bit like Hagler, whether they wanted to admit it or not. Hagler was a cultural icon, and a larger-than-life figure, who in his prime, was bigger than the sport itself.

Marvin Hagler passed away this past Saturday, March 13th, 2021, and he will be dearly missed. For anyone, who liked boxing, and felt marginalized whether it was the politics of the sports or any other torment the sport can bring, Marvin Hagler was someone who proved you can fight through adversity.

Where To Start

Marvin Hagler vs. Vito Antuofermo

Felix: This week I am going with the two Vito Antuofermo fights. They weren’t necessarily classics by any means, but the story itself is what is intriguing to me.

In the first fight, it was Hagler’s first crack at a world title. The fight was a solid workman-like back and forth battle between the two, with many feeling that Hagler had fulfilled his dream and was about to become a world champion. The judges saw it differently and it ended in a split-draw.

A quote that always stood out to me was when one of Marvin Hagler’s handlers told him to keep his head up, he didn’t lose the fight it was just a draw, to which Hagler replied “I don’t have the world titles, so I feel like a loser.”

In Vito’s very next fight he dropped the championship to Alan Minter, and Hagler followed up by stopping Minter to capture his first world championship. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair said it best, “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” and Hagler did just that. A year-and-a-half after their 15-round split draw, Hagler, now the world champion, put his titles on the line against Antuofermo. This fight was completely different than the first and with revenge on his mind, Hagler went to work immediately against his rival. Not long into the first round, an accidental clash of heads opened up a big gash on Vito and the blood was leaking profusely throughout the entire round.

The commentators pointed out that this fight could potentially end in a technical draw, this was not the outcome Marvin would have wanted. The bell rang to start the second round and controversy ensued as members of Antuofermo’s corner including the controversy king himself, Panama Lewis, did not exit the ring and began yelling at the referee and the commission. It was unclear what the argument was exactly, but Bob Arum demanded they get out of the ring and after delaying the start of the round, they cleared the ring and started fighting. Throughout the second and third Hagler busted up Vito with hooks and uppercuts on the inside, quick right jabs, and straight lefts from the outside until he dropped him in the third. Vito continued to lead with his head causing more cuts from the clash of heads and by the middle of the fourth round he was a bloody mess with a cut forehead, eyebrow, and cheek.

Finally, the corner stopped the bout giving Hagler one of his most satisfying victories.

Marvin Hagler vs. Alan Minter

Lukie: Hagler would win his first world title against Alan Minter in a fight that became racially charged prior to when Minter said he “…did not intend to lose his title to a black man“. Hagler stopped Minter in three rounds as the bout was stopped due to cuts and damage Minter had sustained, and Hagler’s first world title win was cut short, by UK fans rioting at the Wembly Arena, ruining Hagler’s long-awaited celebration inside the ring.

It is fitting to see Hagler, a hard-luck fighter, who waited so long for a world title only to have it ruined by fans throwing things at him in the ring, and having to go to the backstage area. It seems like everything that went wrong, and all the disrespect Hagler faced only made him stronger, and the Minter fight was a prime example.

Watching this fight, sums up the good and bad of Hagler’s career. Hagler was Tyson before Tyson. The man you had to fear, and he came into the ring to take something.

Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns

Jack Kelly: On April 15, 1985, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns met at Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas in a fight that boxing fans will remember forever. Hagler and Hearns were both members of the “4 Kings”, and along with Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard showed the boxing world that you don’t have to be a heavyweight in order to be a megastar.

Hagler came into the fight the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, having made ten successful title defenses in a row after destroying Alan Minter to become champion. Hearns was the WBC 154lb champion, and his 1984 second-round knockout of Roberto Duran was one of the more brutal knockouts you’ll ever see in a high-stakes fight.

As far as the bout itself, neither man wasted any time getting to work. Once the opening bell rang, Hagler stepped right to Hearns and tried to work to his body. Both men traded bombs, and a right hand from Hearns caused a gash on the face of Marvin Hagler early in round one. As the round progressed, Hagler walked through the punches of Hearns and got him against the ropes. Hearns landed a few more clean counters off the ropes, but was wobbled as the first round expired.

The opening round is viewed as potentially the best round in boxing history, as the two legends let everything go trying to knock the other one out. The second round was more of a feeling-out process, as Hearns used his length and boxing skills to move around the ring on the outside. Hagler turned orthodox during the round, and though he didn’t have much success with it when he switched back to the southpaw stance later in the round his jab was landing flush. With 30 seconds left in round two, Hagler landed a combination and had Hearns up against the ropes until the round was over. The third round opened up similar to the second round, with Hearns trying to use his boxing skills to keep Hagler at a distance. Time got called during the round as referee Richard Steele brought Hagler over to the ring doctor to check out his cut.

The fight continued, and that brief pause in the action only made Hagler more motivated to get the stoppage. Hagler landed a straight right hand that appeared to have Hearns on rubbery legs. Hearns was forced to clinch, and shortly after they were separated Hagler rocked him with a huge right hook. Hearns briefly turned his back to Marvin, and Hagler immediately pressed the action. Hagler landed another chopping right hook, which would put Hearns down on the canvas. Hearns showed the heart of a warrior to even make it up at the count of nine, but he was in no condition to continue the fight and Richard Steele waived the contest off.

This fight was billed as “The Fight” in the build-up, and millions of people around the world now know this fight as “The War”. Though the fight lasted just under 8 minutes in total time, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler gave us a classic fight that showed just how special both guys were.

Marvin Hagler vs. Roberto Duran

NIBS: Ok, so for me I have the pleasure of recalling Hagler vs. Duran, lets get the particulars out of the way. Both guys came in at 157 for the 15 round fight for the unified middleweight championship of the world which was fought outside on 11-10-83 in front of 14,600 at Ceasar’s Palace and shown on closed circuit tv and limited ppv in Chicago and LA this was one of the biggest fights of the time.

Entering the fight Hagler was a 4-1 betting favorite and taking home the lion share of the purse at 5 million to Duran’s 1.5 million with each guy getting a peice of the gate. So any boxing fan who had a pulse back then knew Hagler was one of the most feared fighters at the time. He won 7 consecutive title defenses by KO and was forced to go the full 15 for the first time as a champion in this fight. Now since I was only 2-years-old when this fight took place I wasn’t able to watch it live and had to re-watch it online myself but I tell you what, I thought Duran was getting the better of it until Hagler came on late and took over.

All 3 judges agreed and gave the champ the nod in the end but Duran was up as late as round 13 and believed he had done enough to get the win. Hagler was quoted as saying he was upset he didn’t get a knockout but that Duran wasn’t like anyone he had fought up that point, but believed he had been the better fighter that night and he was happy to get the win. Duran for his part said that Hagler ran from him all night, never hurt him, called him a coward and that he didn’t deserve the destroyer nickname he had been given.

The reason I like this fight is it showed that Hagler could over come a rough fight with a guy that wasn’t going to relent under his power and even with a badly swollen and cut eye and down on the cards after 13 rounds was able to come back in true champ form and pull out a very tough win against a HOF caliber opponent.

Last Moment Of Greatness

Marvin Hagler vs. “Sugar” Ray Leonard

Lukie: Hagler’s last fight was a grudge match against “Sugar” Ray Leonard, a fighter who waited, waited, and waited a bit more before fighting Hagler. The bout is one of myth. Leonard won, and a lot of people including Hagler, felt the decision was awful, despite being a very close fight. The verdict of the fight soured an already bitter Hagler to the sport of boxing, who never fought after this fight.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle