Editor’s Note: This feature was originally published in the May 2014 issue of Ring Magazine
Marvin Hagler lived up to what became his legal name: “Marvelous”. Hagler was a breathtaking hurting machine at his best, a very good, aggressive boxer with tremendous punching power and one of the best chins of all time. He insisted the only knockdown of his career, against Juan Roldan, was a slip.
Hagler lost two times relatively early in his career but then went 36-0-1, the blemish being a controversial 1979 draw against Vito Antuofermo in his first title fight.
Some considered Hagler the best middleweight in the world even before September 1980 when he fought Alan Minter for the undisputed championship in London. Hagler won when Minter could not go on because of a cut, marking the beginning of one of the division’s greatest runs.
Hagler made 12 successful defenses over five-plus years, 11 by knockout, and also picked up the IBF title along the way. Among his victims: Roberto Duran (UD 15), Thomas Hearns (TKO 3) and John Mugabi (KO 11).
The Hearns fight is remembered as one of the greatest of all time, as the principals exchanged murderous punches at a frenetic pace from the opening bell. Hagler sustained a deep cut to his forehead but continued to press Hearns until finally hammering his adversary to the canvas at 1:52 of the third round.
“With Tommy Hearns, finally they gave me what I’m looking for,” Hagler told The Ring. “I knew it was going to be that kind of a fight because [during] the buildup to the fight, he didn’t like me, I didn’t like him.”
Hagler would be named The Ring Fighter of the Year in 1983 and 1985. His victory over Mugabi in 1986 set up a showdown the following year against Sugar Ray Leonard, who was making a comeback after almost three years out of the ring.