Hagler vs Hearns. Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1985. Up for grabs are the WBC, WBA and IBF World Middleweight Championships.
If you’ve never seen the fight between “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, you need to sit back and grab a front row seat to witness one of the three greatest fights in boxing history.
It’s a thrilling, pulsating affair. Brutal, all-encompassing, enraged. Action continues from first to last. It is, in a nutshell, the breathless, hilarious gold of boxing.
The fight for the four kings of two of boxing’s greatest eras ended in a spectacular knockout and the underdog was taken first to the corner and then out of the arena. Ring magazine chose the fight of the year. Some say it’s the best ever.
Hagler entered the game and was 31 years old. He had won the middleweight crown from British boxer Alan Minter in 1980 on a night of blatant racism and coin tossing at London’s Wembley Arena. When he faced Hearns, he had won the championship five years in a row and defended him ten times against high-level opponents, including Roberto Duran. His work rate was amazing, his boxing skills exemplary. He had eyes of steel and hard as teak: real and powerful, an undisputed champion who spared no one, and by then he had been undefeated for almost a decade.
Hearns had a 40-1 record and was Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year. He was a product of the legendary Kronk stable, which produced some of boxing’s greats, including Steven and Milton McCrory, Mark Breland, Jimmy Paul and Gerald McClellan. His coach, the legendary Emmanuel Steward, who later honed the skills of Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, considered Hearns to be his favorite fighter out of all the ones he shaped in the tough Detroit gym.
He earned the right to call himself “The Hitman” because he was a fearsome scorer with concussions in both punches and 48 of his 61 KO wins. His granite-jawed Roberto Duran Panamanian Hall of Famer knockout in the WBC middleweight title bout is clinical and brutal as you’ll never see. The Durans were out of the cold before they hit the bridge like a tree called “Timber“.
Hagler v Hearns has had well-rounded experts, experts from all over the world have called it an “equal fight, pick ’em”.
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However, Hearns saw it much more clearly: “Hagler is old,” he said. I’ll KO him in the third round. After Hagler I have some defenses and go up to light heavyweights. I want to make history! ”
According to forecasts, he would prove to be far from the target.
As the two fighters stood in the ring facing each other as the referee, Richard Steele, delivered his “obey my orders at all times” speech, Hearns looked shaken. Something was bubbling in his blood and immediately after hitting his gloves with Hagler on the way to the corner, Hearns stopped in the center of the ring and gave the champion from Brockton, Mass., A long, hard and deadly look before being driven away. .
Whatever the red haze, Hearns ignored Steward’s pre-fight advice to stay out of combat with Hagler. “If you use your jabs well, Hagler won’t get close enough to hurt you.” In fact, Hearns did just the opposite. Don’t use his superiors, reach, height, or footwork. He got up and acted. infuriated.
Round one felt like an eternity and it has it all. Even looking back now, time seems to have stopped to admire the instant classic. One commentator said he packed 15 rounds into one round. No quarter asked, no data.
The ringing of the opening bell had just stopped ringing when Hagler Hearns burst into the room in a straight line to his diaphragm. Sparks flew. Show the set. Get up.
Hard punches, jabs, hooks, bombs, uppercuts, crosses, hands. We had the fate of both fighters. Dodging, weaving, head movement, footwork. Excellent skills. Hagler only eclipsed it with the defensive upside and pace of work, but both were injured. They both had to endure. Both fighters may have landed. But neither of them would flinch. It was an exciting opening.
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One thing was certain, there was no way for this to go far.
Emanuel Steward read the Hearns riots in his corner and asked his office to stop the fighting. Kicking back, poking the puncture on Hagler’s forehead, opening it again, boxing and moving as the blood gushed from the wound into Hagler’s eyes.
But with 30 seconds left in the game, he couldn’t resist a direct switch. This was Hagler’s domain. And after the submission, the champion suddenly began to pack a big punch, which obviously worried Hearns, prompting the now-excited crowd to get up and strangle Steward, who audibly yelled, “Stop him, Tommy!” The bell rang with a deafening roar and a goddamn Hagler stood and stared at Hearns. The message was clear, I’m not done yet.
DOCTOR, TIMEOUT, CUTTING AND FINISH
The round started with a fitting corner penalty as Hearns came back to keep the fight long and came in to hit and jump again, using the ring effectively. Hagler marched uncontrollably forward without stopping his opponent.
Again the incision opened and after 25 seconds the translation; the referee calls time-out and gestures to the doctor in the ring to come and have a look. The crowd is furious and whistles. Hagler yells, “You’re not taking this fight away from me without surgery.”
The doctor agreed and the operation went ahead. And what an action it was. Same as in the legend.
Hagler seemed to realize it was now or never and launched a furious attack
Tommy Hearns had what is known in poker parlance as a “tell”. When injured, he smiled and showed off a bright white gum shield. The big smile was kidology. Had to show he was ok, no problem, you are not allowed to touch it. But in reality he had been missed.
Hearns was showing off those pearly whites when Hagler tapped him with a big hand moments later. His legs let him down and danced him in the opposite direction to Hagler, turning his back on the champion. Hagler shot across the ring in pursuit and placed him in the crowd. Fast forward left, right and center.
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Hagler came in for a punch and a huge right hook saw Hearns slide forward. A left hook sent him to the canvas where he lay on his back as the referee made the count. Free pandemonium in the crowd.
Hearns went upstairs at eight, but Richard Steele looked him in the eye and luckily canceled the match. Hagler looked up at the sky. He had lost many battles there, but he had won the war. And the roar that greeted this victory echoed through the ages.
Hagler v Feel the consequences
While a beaming and cheering Hagler, held aloft by his team, received applause from all four sides of the delusional arena, Thomas Hearns was carried by one of his companions on his corner stool, inert and clearly still with a concussion.
In no time they got him out of the ring and from there to the hospital.
He may have played into Hagler’s hands, disobeying his team’s instructions and losing the fight, but he gave it his all in a game that made history. He would have one more day when he would win the World Super Middleweight, Lightweight and Heavyweight Championships and secure his place in the boxing Hall of Fame.
After the game, referee Richard Steele said he was completely and utterly “exhausted”. It was such a battle, hard not to go through the emotional meat grinder fighting the battle with them. Get up, screaming, screaming, by, by. ‘
And so it was.
Hagler, the champion, once again successfully defended his title before losing to Sugar Ray Leonard in a highly controversial and by many considered scandalous and divisive decision. It was a feat that caused him to quit boxing for good.
A rich man and one of the greatest fighters not only in the golden generation but also of all time retired to Italy.
His legend lives on in his many fights, but none more so than this 7-minute, 52-second war at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas that shook the boxing world and produced one of the most incendiary of legendary matches. An all-time classic.