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38 years ago

Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns

Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns

Date: 15th April 1985

Venue: Caesars Palace, Outdoor Arena, Las Vegas

Title: WBC, WBA & IBF World Middleweight Titles

Promoter: Bob Arum

Tv: ABC Sports

Marvin Hagler
( 60 - 2 - 2 )
Weight: 159 1/4 lbs

Thomas Hearns
( 40 - 1 - 0 )
Weight: 159 3/4 lbs

Of all the achievements in Thomas "Hitman" Hearn's career, his 2nd round knockout of Roberto Duran was probably the single most obvious reason that sent the prospect of a Hagler vs Hearns fight into the stratosphere for boxing fans around the world. Duran was the only fighter to have taken the Brockton, Massachusetts-based champion the distance in his ten world middleweight title defences. Duran was seen as a living boxing legend before and after his defeat to Hagler. No one had ever come close to stopping the Panamanian 3-weight world champion and yet Hearns left Duran face-first on the Caesars Palace, Outdoor Arena canvas.

The build-up to "The Fight" as Top Rank head, Bob Arum had named it, was simply electric. I can't remember any fight before or after that split fans and experts alike on the outcome. Never were there two more equally matched fighters at the pinnacle of their careers.

Everyone had their opinion, but when Hagler wore a baseball cap with the word "War" emblazoned on the front in the week-long build-up in Las Vegas, perhaps we all knew we were about to get something special. The normally careful starting champion seemed hyped at the prospect of engaging Hearns in trench warfare. Hagler believed Detroit's former world welter and super-welterweight champion had avoided him up until now.

When the first bell sounded, Hagler took the fight straight to his challenger. In what boxing scribes, fans, tv analysts, and casual boxing watchers around the world have perceived as the greatest round of boxing ever since it took place, the two protagonists threw bomb after bomb at one another with destructive intentions. Hagler was cut, high on the forehead but seemed to have Hearns on wobbly legs at the end of the round, courtesy of a big swinging overhand left. The action was breathtaking. "The Fight" had quickly become "The War."

Hearns got back to his corner and soon explained to his team that he had broken his right hand. Trainer Emmanuel Steward, told his charge to keep things at long range, do not have another round of all-out war. And Tommy did that for most of the round, even if at times it appeared that Hagler had him on shaky legs. But, near the end of the round, Tommy looked in trouble again and the momentum shifted yet again.

The greatest fights are always full of drama, moments that shift the weight of opinion on who is the favourite. When referee Richard Steele stopped the bout and directed Hagler to his corner for the ringside doctor to check the cut on his forehead which had opened up, the crowd gasped. How could a fight with this degree of uncertainty surrounding its outcome, end like this?

Thankfully for everyone involved except Team Hearns, the fight was allowed to continue but the champion knew that time was running out. He had to finish this in his favour before he bled so much that the fight would be stopped.

Hagler attacked with even more bad intentions. He bullied the rubbery-legged Hearns from pillar to post until he caught him with a left hook that shook Hearns to his boots. Hagler knew this was his moment to pounce. A short barrage of hooks on the ropes dropped Hearns onto his back and although he bravely rose just as referee Steele reached the count of ten, it was too late and the brave Detroit native was in no fit state to continue.

Both would h go on to further world title glory and all-time-great status within the sport but neither would ever top "The War" in terms of sheer excitement.

Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns on YouTube

Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns

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