THE date was April 15, 1985. The venue, Caesars Palace in Nevada at a ring set up on a tennis court. Boxing historians have dubbed this fight as “The War” and some would submit this to be the greatest fight of all time, all eight minutes of it.
BACKGROUND. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler was 30 years old, in his prime and the reigning middleweight champion of the world. He conquered his opponents with single-minded ferocity. Mustafa Hamsho, Roberto Duran, Vito Antuofermo. They all fell to the bald lefty with the menacing look and the bad attitude. They weren’t tough enough.
Tommy Hearns was the younger man at 26 years of age. He earned the nickname the “Hitman” for his punching power and his sharpshooting expertise. Thrirty-four of the 41 he had knocked out could attest to that. The year before he had eviscerated Panamanian legend Roberto Duran in two rounds.
In the build-up to the fight, both men didn’t bother to hide their animosity towards each other. Hagler said he planned to break every bone in his body. Hearns called Hagler an “easy test.”
THE FIGHT. Hearns came into the ring first wearing a red robe with yellow trim. Hagler followed in a royal blue robe.
When the bell rang, all that raging animosity came to a head as both men went after each other in a frenetic pace. Hearns had planned to box and go for the late knockout as later revealed by his trainer Emmanuel Steward. But Hagler wouldn’t let him. He went after Hearns like a man possessed.
Hearns responded in kind and opened up a nasty gash on Hagler’s forehead in the first round. Hagler didn’t even bother to throw a jab. Afterwards, Hearns would admit that he slugged because he had to, in order to protect himself. Steward was livid in the corner.
That round is referred to as the greatest round in boxing.
In Round 2, Hagler maintained his pace while Hearns tried to box and throw some jabs in order to create some separation. Hagler would have none of that. He changed his stance into orthodox so he could better position himself into bullying Hearns into the ropes.
Hearns caught Hagler with a vicious right hand that stunned Hagler but the latter rained blows on Hearns in the dying seconds as the latter sagged along the ropes.
In Round 3, Hagler sensed his quarry was wounded and weakened. He stalked him around while Hearns tried to target his cut. A jab opened up the cut again, forcing the ref to signal a time out and ask him if he could see all right.
Hagler’s chilling reply was : “No problem. I ain’t missing him, am I?”
A few seconds later, Hagler would catch Hearns with a vicious right hand. Hearns turned his back and ran, but Hagler caught him again with another vicious right hand on his chin.
Last Round. It’s on my best buddy back in UP Diliman, Edgar Genosa, who recently celebrated his birthday. Cheers Edge!