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Remembering Hagler’s career

By Jose Muradas: “Doubt me, that’s when I get stronger.” Those were words echoed by Marvin Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KO’s) and to those who doubted him in the ring, the lesson was well learned afterwards. From 1980 thru 1987 there was no better middleweight on the planet. Hagler made twelve successful title defenses in that span. He ripped thru challengers one by one, leaving a long list of fighters rethinking the profession they chose.

Hagler was born in Newark, NJ and after the Newark riots of 1967, he moved with his family to Brockton, Mass. As a child Hagler told his mother he wanted to be like Floyd Patterson a great champion in his own right. Hagler was taught to box early on by his uncles, but his introduction into the boxing world came under the tutelage of the Petronelli brothers, Pat and Goody.

In 1973, Hagler became the national AAU champion at 165 pounds.He went on to fight in obscurity often times having to fight in his opponents’ hometown to get a fight. He finally was given a break, when Willie “The Worm” Monroe offered him a fight on short notice. Hagler lost a close decision, but was able to avenge his loss in a second fight with a KO of Monroe in 12 rounds.

Hagler fought a bevy of fighters until he finally met Alan Minter in Wembley, the stage was set and the hostility from Minter and his home crowd did not  make this an easy fight. Hagler  turned the  tables on Minter and ripped thru him, opening up a cut and the fight was stopped after three rounds. Marvin Hagler was champion, finally.

All this after losing a heartbreaking 15 round decision to then champion Vito Antuofermo. Hagler would go on and fight some big time wars after becoming champion. He fought 15 grueling rounds with Roberto Duran, most  had Duran ahead, but Hagler took the last three rounds to earn a decision. In April of 1985, Hagler and Hearns fought the fight that was  simply called “The War”.

It was eight minutes of street-fighting between two skilled ringmasters and today is still remembered as one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Hagler survived with a gash on his head, Hearns was beaten, with a broken hand to go with it. He also fought 11 brutal rounds against John Mugabi and won that fight also. Hagler would end up fighting Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987. It was to be one of the more controversial fights of all time.

Many say Leonard stole the fight with his flurries and footwork, others offer that Sugar Ray was pounded by Hagler and managed to get off a few punches that never landed cleanly. I won’t offer my opinion, but you are entitled to yours. I only commend Hagler for the way he left the sport. He didn’t hold on and he didn’t fight the politics.

I will always remember the way he spoke about his training in the bitter cold of Cape Cod. He said that when he ran on the beach the air was so cold it would burn your lungs,all this in a pair of army boots…..say no more. Hagler, is by far the best middleweight of the 80’s,but where would you rank him all time?

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