Boxing’s Greatest Bouts: Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns

Dave Kuzio:

There has been some amazing boxing fights throughout the years, our new feature focuses on some of the greatest bouts ever. For our first instalment, we will feature Marvin Hagler against Thomas Hearns for the WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring and Lineal middleweight titles.

READ MORE: Get more Boxing betting, tips news & features from BettingPro.com.

There has been some amazing boxing fights throughout the years, our new feature focuses on some of the greatest bouts ever. For our first instalment, we will feature Marvin Hagler against Thomas Hearns for the WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring and Lineal middleweight titles.

Not all great fights have to be a 12-round war. You can have very quick fights that will stay with you for the rest of your life. This fight on April 15, 1985 is most definitely one of them.

How Did This Fight Come About?

Marvin Hagler was the undisputed champion of the middleweight division in 1985, there can be no arguments about that. He was the reigning WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring and Lineal middleweight champion of the world – he was at the top of his game.

He became champion in England when he took on defending champion Alan Minter who ramped up the ante before the contest with some comments that could be construed as racist.

Hagler won the fight inside three rounds as he dominated the fight, with the American taking advantage of Minter’s tendency to cut very easily. Hagler opened up four separate cuts on Minter and referee Carlos Berrocal decided enough was enough in the third – much to the annoyance of the paying public.

Marvin Hagler against Alan Minter. (Photo by S&G/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)

Boos rang out around Wembley Arena as Hagler was crowned champion and him and his team had to be escorted back to the locker room as they tried to avoid a shower of beer bottles and glasses.

After beating Minter, Hagler took on all comers. Before he got in the ring with Hearns he had 10 title defences with only one of them going the full distance. That fight was against the great Roberto Duran, who had stepped up from light middleweight. Hagler won a unanimous points decision after 15 rounds.

Hagler looked in danger of losing all of his titles to Duran, but he came on strong in the latter part of the fight to take the decision.

After beating Duran, Hagler won two successive fights by technical knockout as he stopped Juan Roidan and Mustafa Hamsho in the 10th and third respectively.

This then set up his 11th title defence with Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns standing in his way.

Hearns came into this bout with a record of 40-1 – his only defeat at that time was a 14th-round TKO loss against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981 when he lost his WBA welterweight title.

The Hitman was nicknamed so because of how hard he could hit and knock you out. He made his professional debut in 1977 and he never ducked a challenge. He fought at welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight throughout his career where he became world champion in all those divisions.

The Fight That Became The War

When this bout was announced to take place on April 15, 1985 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, it was dubbed ‘The Fight’. After everything was said and done, it was renamed ‘The War’.

If you only watch one more fight from the past until the day you die, make sure you watch this one. Both fighters refused to take a backward step and either man could have won it. The only disappointing aspect of this fight was that it didn’t last longer.

A lot of fighters try to get a feel for their opponent in the opening stages of a fight, Hagler was normally one of them. Well, in Vegas that night, both men had one thing on their mind and that was to get this over with quickly.

These two launched at each from the opening bell with every single punch thrown intended to knock the other one out. It is probably one of the best first rounds in the history of boxing. They kept swinging, praying the other would go down – but both men stayed on their feet.

Hagler, who had been cut in the first round, tried desperately to finish this fight in the second round. He continued to throw punches at Hearns, but the challenger sensed he was hurting the champion and he himself went for the kill. Hearns opened up another cut under Hagler’s right eye and he looked in trouble, but he continued to land fierce shots on Hearns.

With Hagler’s eye getting worse, referee Richard Steele asked the champion ‘Can you see him?’ In typical Hagler fashion, he replied ‘I’m hitting him, aren’t I.’

The fight entered the third round with both fighters still launching bombs at each other. It didn’t last much longer as Hagler caught Hearns with a beauty of a right hook that wobbled Hearns’ legs and almost sent him full circle. Hagler went in for the kill and hit him with three clubbing right hands to send Hearns down to the canvas. The challenger got back to his feet, but Steele had seen enough and waved the fight off.

This fight will go down as one of the greatest ever, both fighters deserve credit for taking the contest to the other. Both of them wanted the knockout and they gave it their all in an epic bout.