Marvin Hagler, one of the greatest middleweights in ring history, died yesterday at age 66. Hagler reigned as undisputed middleweight champion from 1980 to 1987 and finished with a record of 62-3-2. Hagler retired after a close and hotly disputed loss to Sugar Ray Leonard and refused all offers to come back. He walked away with his faculties intact and with most of his money, and worked thereafter as an actor and fight commentator. TMZ has a nice tribute and ESPN’s Mark Kriegel celebrates Hagler’s ability to retire and stay retired, something too many other fighters have been unwilling to do.
In 1985, Hagler defended his middleweight title against Tommy Hearns, the Hit Man. Hearns was also a great boxer, and stood four inches taller than Hagler. The fight was a classic, and its first round is remembered as one of the greatest in ring history. Marvelous Marvin won on a third round knockout.
This video includes the leadup to the fight, which was at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, with Doc Severinsen playing the National Anthem. The crowd cheered every blow, which means they cheered a lot, as the action was non-stop. The referee did a good job: no one lost a lot of sleep over low blows, but clutching and grabbing was strictly off limits. This is about as exciting a sports event as you will ever see:
The Hearns-Hagler fight wasn’t that long ago–1985–so why does it feel like an artifact of a lost civilization?
Marvin Hagler, RIP.