Written by Tré Berry III | 09/25/2019
(Excerpt from Marvin Hagler Career Piece)
Iconic Undisputed Middleweight Champion 🇺🇸Marvelous Marvin Hagler (60-2-2, 50KO) had his eyes set on the defense record established by 🇦🇷Carlos Monzon (14), and Marvin was looking to make the 11th successful defense of his RING/WBA/WBC/IBF world titles…but to get there, he would have to run through another fellow legend in order to keep the ball rolling on his standing as king of the division.
There had been long tensions brewing between two of the most dominant pugilists in the sport of boxing in the 1980’s, and the pot began to boil as a blockbuster super-fight was agreed upon for a date on April 15th, 1985 between Hagler, and ever-dangerous reigning RING/WBC Super-Welterweight World Champion 🇺🇸Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns (40-1-0, 34KO). They had something agreed upon 3 years prior, but had to call the fight off due to a hand injury that Tommy suffered, so they went their own ways.
Hearns had the reputation of being Pound-4-Pound one of the hardest hitters to ever lace the gloves on, and his freakish punching ability was perhaps never showcased any better than when he nearly decapitated 🇵🇦Roberto Duran with one absurdly devastating right hand that crumbled “the Hands of Stone” in the 2nd round of their contest.
To put it in perspective, Roberto Duran was just one fight removed from his legendary, competitive fight with Hagler, so that was an extra feather in the cap for Tommy coming into this one. With Hearns being the hardest hitter in boxing, and Marvin having boxing’s best chin, something had to give, and there was plenty testing that went on in what resulted in the greatest 8 minutes in the history of boxing.
In the moment leading up to the fight after the boxers were introduced, you could sense added intensity to Hagler who looked like he was ready to eat, more-so than you would normally see him as a roaming predator, even though he was naturally menacing. Hearns also had the look in his eyes, as if he was going in there, looking to kill Hagler.
Hearns came out exactly the way you’d expect him to after that staredown, and immediately landed a thunderous right hand that staggered Hagler badly (a very rare occurrence) and immediately got his attention as Hearns flooded him with bone-crunching combinations that literally would’ve had anyone else’s night cut short quick, but somehow Hagler made it through, and continued on the hunt, even though Hearns opened up a horrible gash on Haglers forehead.
Marvin Hagler immediately came back and pushed Tommy Hearns on his backfoot as he let out a high octane assault with nonstop right hooks and left crosses, getting into Hearns chest. At some point in this brilliant showing of the 1st round, Hearns hurt his vaunted right hand, and could no longer commit full power on it like he routinely did, and this was a fight he really needed his hands at full health…nonetheless, Hearns fought Hagler fire-with-fire and delivered some of the most blistering action that has ever been seen in boxing, and it culminated with a stare down at the bell, as the greatest round in boxing history had just happened.
Hagler immediately started the 2nd round off with a long left hand. Hearns, from the combination of him breaking his right hand and feeling the overall strength and tenacity of Hagler, decided to bounce outside and try to box him from distance relying on the jab and the check-hook, however he had severe difficulty with his balance, much to do with Hearns getting a leg massage in the dressing room that relaxed the muscles and messed with his overall coordination, so his legs were in bad shape to where he repeatedly stumbled on his back foot.
As this was going on, Marvin upped the ante and was on a prowl, maliciously stalking Tommy while blood was streaming down Hagler’s face, and hurt Tommy repeatedly with left hooks and right hands, as he switched to fighting orthodox in certain key points of the fight.
The third round, Hearns decided to use all the space in the ring and pick at Hagler while he was feverishly pressing forward, and Hearns blew up the cut on Hagler’s forehead that prompted Referee Richard Steele to call a timeout to get the Ring Doctor to take a look at Hagler’s cut. The doctor asked Marvin Hagler about his vision, and Hagler’s response to him was “I ain’t missing him, am I?”…a compelling enough answer it was, and the Doctor allowed the fight to continue…but it was at this point that Hagler knew that he was in a bit of danger due to the severity of the cut, and knew he had to do something, and do it fast.
He got right back out there and hurt Hearns with a right cross while Hearns back was to the ropes. Marvin then began to press forward harder than any other time in his career, then all of a sudden, bang!…Hagler belted Hearns with a long leaping-in right hand that caught Hearns on the temple and had him severely disoriented. Hearns cognition was completely gone, and Marvin ran to him and hit him with another big right hand. Hagler missed a left hook, but landed the homerun punch which was a right hand that landed on the button to the jaw, with an inadvertent headbutt that followed, and Hearns dropped down flat on his back, and looked to have no energy, or where-with-all to get up.
Tommy actually made it to his feet at the count of 9, but he was in terrible shape, with his mind somewhere orbiting Jupiter, and after Richard Steele took a long look at him, the historic fight came to an end, and Hagler had just secured the biggest win of his career, in the most violent fight that he was in, albeit only lasting 3 rounds. Hearns was carried back to his corner by his half-brother, exhausted and battered, and a more celebratory than usual Hagler fully basked in his monumental accomplishment, and cemented himself as one of the greatest Middleweights in boxing’s long history.