Thirty years ago today Marvelous Marvin Hagler defended his Undisputed Middleweight Championship against Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns. The match up was dubbed The Fight, and there has never been a more appropriate title given to a boxing match during the promotional stage.
Everything has pretty much been written about this fight over the years. Spectators who viewed it live will never forget it. Spectators who viewed it at the Out Door Arena in Caesar’s Palace have even greater stories to tell about this savage battle.
Hagler, the winner in this three round war, has been falsely defined by this fight, however. For better or for worse, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, is often mistaken as a brawler with a cast iron jaw as a result of this classic battle.
I say it is a mistake, not because Marvin could not brawl, his great knockout percentage is clear evidence he was a great offensive fighter, Marvin certainly did have a great chin as well, never legitimately knocked down in 67 professional boxing matches. However it is a mistake because he was so much more than that as a pugilist.
Hagler had been one of the two or three best fighters in the world ever since fellow Undisputed Middleweight King, Carlos Monzon, retired in 1977 and he just kept getting better.
If Hagler was just a straight ahead brawler he would have been much easier to figure out. His skills inside the squared circled were immense and many.
He had the ability to be a great counter puncher, to fight inside, to switch stances, possessed a solid defense (Marvin was always looking to land hard stuff in the pocket yet was hardly ever caught flush prior to The Fight) and worked off of a beautiful, stiff right jab.
Hagler’s right jab was so good, yet subtle, it often gets overlooked. Gil Clancy, who went on record saying he avoided Hagler when he had Middleweight Champion Rodrigo Valdez, described getting hit with a Hagler right jab was like getting nailed with a straight right hand, as only Gil can annunciate it.
While Gil was accurate, even he did not pinpoint why Hagler’s jab was so good. Marvin’s 75 inch reach, for a relatively short boxer, was a key ingredient to The Brockton Blockbuster’s success.
Marvelous Marvin could get to you from pretty much anywhere in the ring. He was almost halfway across the ring when he caught Caveman Lee in 1982, and, despite all of his great lateral movement, Hagler constantly nailed Ray Leonard with his straight right jab when he did fight in the southpaw stance (which was most of the fight, contrary to popular belief).
The aforementioned Monzon was much bigger than Marvin, yet only had a one inch reach advantage. A fact most people will proably question. Hagler’s ability to utilize this gift allowed him to be accurate from anywhere in the ring.
His strong looping punches in the Hearns brawl was key in that fight because it did not allow Tommy, the much taller man, to keep Marvin off of him when he tried to move. Tommy had nowhere to hide.
The big question I have always had about this fight is why Marvin decided to go all out against Tommy and fight so unlike the fighter he truly was? Marvin had said in interviews it was because Tommy got under his skin after their grueling promotional tour. It could have been as simple as that. My guess though, like Marvelous Marvin Hagler himself, the onion has many more layers than that.
While The Fight was one of the greatest moments in boxing history, and should be celebrated it should not define Hagler a savage brawler with a superior chin. While he was that, and could have been that on any given night, he was a lot more complicated and skilled as a boxer.
When looking at his fight with Tommy Hearns, it should not define Hagler, but serve as a valve to his whole career. Boxing fans should appreciate and understand Hagler was one of the best ever. As was the three rounds on April 15, 1985.
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