Marvin Hagler was all about boxing. So much so that the Marvelous One once famously said that if they cut open his head, all you would see inside was a boxing glove.
That he died recently, was certainly a tragedy. But that he died reportedly because of complications after the administration of a Covid-19 vaccine, makes it doubly so. (Editor’s Note: Hagler’s widow, Kay, has refuted social media posts that his death was the result of a Covid-19 vaccination.)
This was a man, nay a warrior who fought mercilessly and decimated his opponents because of his sheer physicality and toughness. That he succumbed to something that was meant to be innocuous is both a tragedy and an irony.
TOUGH. Hagler was truly the epitome of the old school fighter. They don’t make ‘em like him anymore these days. Back then, you had no chiropractors, no chefs, no dieticians, no fancy supplements. If you had videos of your opponent, it was probably grainy and of poor quality and only from selected fights.
You had to do it the old school way. Road runs. Heavy bags. Sparring. Proper diet and discipline with no shortcuts and hacks. This was how they molded men made of iron and that’s how Hagler was built.
His fight with Tommy Hearns will forever be my favorite. Three unmitigated rounds of pure violence. Entering the fight, there was so much bad blood between these two. They went at each other from the get-go like two fighting cocks bred for only one purpose: Destroy the other.
In the end, Hagler just proved too strong and too tough for “The Hitman” who landed his fair share of powerful punches that would have brought a lesser mortal to his knees. But Hagler was no mere mortal. He was a brute. You could not beat him moving forward. John “The Beast” Mugabi was a prime example of a fighter who made the silly mistake of thinking he could out-macho Hagler.
Coming into the fight, who could blame him, actually. He was an Olympic Silver Medalist. A fearsome record of 26 wins with no defeats. All those wins coming via the short route. Plus he had youth on his side. It didn’t matter. Hagler took everything that Mugabi had to offer and regurgitated the punishment back to him. He stopped Mugabi in the 11th round of a brutal war.
The only way you could beat him was to box him, which was precisely what Sugar Ray Leonard did in Hagler’s last fight. Yet, it was controversial and could arguably have been called for Hagler. The latter was so upset that he walked away from the sport.
Thanks for the memories, Champ. You will always be Top 5 in my book.
VERBATIM. “I felt so much like a monster. I wanted him to get up because I was not finished with him.” - Marvin Hagler on beating Tommy Hearns (“My Greatest Fight”)
LAST ROUND. It’s on Nemesio de Jesus who recently celebrated his birthday in Dapa Surigao del Norte with a lovely surprise from his loving children. Cheers, Tio!