In the story of the fabulous four, who are boxing royalty, namely Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns, Roberto Durán and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, the latter proved himself a competent and successful boxer, despite lacking the slender build and reach of Sugar Ray and Hearns.
At 5 feet 9 inches, what Hagler lacked in height he made up for with his powerful left-hander. Like his peers, Hagler had to prove himself on the amateur circuit before turning pro. He didn’t disappoint, recording 57 amateur wins including the 1973 Amateur Athletic Union middleweight title.
When Hagler tuned professional, he continued his winning streak coming out victor in his first 26 professional bouts, which included 19 knockouts. That winning streak was only halted by Sugar Ray Seales who held him to a draw in 1974.
1976 proved a bad year for the marvelous one when he registered two defeats to middleweights Bobby Watts and Willie Monroe but Hagler quickly made amends to remain unbeaten for another decade.
Travelling to England, Hagler took the world title from Alan Minter with a third-round knockout on September 27, 1980, going on to defend the title 12 times from 1981 through 1986. At six years and seven months, his reign as undisputed middleweight champion is the second-longest of the last century.
And on April 15, 1985, Hagler took on the powerful foe Thomas Hearns. The fight which lasted just three rounds still evokes strong emotions decades later and for good reason. It’s been described as the greatest three-round fight in any weight class of any generation.
Hearns, the world light-middleweight champion, moved up in weight to tackle the undisputed middleweight king Hagler.
“In the first round, Hagler took the fight straight to Hearns which saw the two trade ferocious punches in three of the most astonishing minutes in boxing history. Hagler was badly cut, while Hearns had already broken his right hand. In round two, Hearns’ legs kept betraying him while Hagler switched to orthodox from his southpaw stance. By the third round, Hagler’s cut worsened which prompted referee Richard Steele to ask Marvin if he could see to which he replied “I’m not missing him, am I?“.”
Hagler, seeing that his only chance of a win was a KO went for it. He tore into Hearns, backing him up and catching him with rights to the head and chin. Hearns fell to the canvas and bravely rising to his feet, but Steele stopped ‘The War’ at 1:53 in the third round.
Curiously enough, in 1982, annoyed that network announcers often did not refer to him by his nickname “Marvelous”, Hagler legally changed his name to “Marvelous Marvin Hagler” from Marvin Nathaniel Hagler.
Hagler began life in Newark, New Jersey’s Central Ward but following the Newark Riots of July 12–17, 1967, including the destruction of the Hagler’s tenement, his family moved to Brockton, Massachusetts where his boxing craft began.
The man born May 23, 1954 is an inductee of the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It was Hagler who knocked out Mike Colbert and had his jaw broken. He also stopped Briton Kevin Finnegan in round eight. Finnegan required 40 stitches afterwards underlying the ferocity of his blows.
Hagler was named Fighter of the Decade (1980s) by Boxing Illustrated magazine, and twice named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. In 2001 and 2004, The Ring magazine named him the fourth greatest middleweight of all time and in 2002 named him the 17th greatest fighter of the past 80 years.
On April 6, 1987, in one of the most renowned middleweight title fights, Hagler lost his long-held crown to Sugar Ray Leonard in a controversial 12-round split decision. Unable to accept the defeat, Hagler retired from boxing earning a $12 million purse from the fight.
Fifty-two of Hagler’s 62 career wins were by knockout; he had three losses and two draws.
After the loss to Leonard, Hagler moved to Italy, where he became a well-known star of action films. His roles include a US Marine in the films Indio and Indio 2.