Road To The Title
Marvelous Marvin Hagler was born on May 23, 1954, in Newark, New Jersey. He was the oldest of six children. His father, Robert Sims, left the family when Hagler was young, and he was raised along with his siblings by his mother, Ida Mae Hagler. In 1969, wanting to escape the race riots that plagued Newark at the time, Hagler's mother moved the family children to Brockton, Massachusetts, the hometown of hall of fame boxer Rocky Marciano. When he was 15 years old, Hagler began working out at a boxing gym in Brockton, where he met brothers Guareno ("Goody") and Pat Petronelli, who trained and managed Hagler throughout his career.
Hagler won 57 bouts as an amateur. In May 1973, a week after winning the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) middleweight championship, he turned professional. On May 18, 1973, he won his first professional fight, with a technical knockout (TKO) of Terry Ryan in the second round. Hagler walked through his first 14 bouts with little trouble. He scored a total of three knockouts (KO; one in the first round, two in the second) and nine TKOs. He faced his first serious challenge on August 30, 1974, when he fought former Olympic champion, Sugar Ray Seales. Going 10 rounds, Hagler earned the decision in a closely matched bout. In a rematch on November 26, the two fought 10 rounds to a draw.
On January 13, 1976, with a record of 26-0-1, Hagler experienced the first loss of his career, failing to earn the decision in a 10-round bout with Bobby "Boogaloo" Watts. He lost a second time two fights later, again by decision after 10 rounds, to Willie "The Worm" Monroe. Hagler later avenged both losses by beating Monroe twice in 1977 and knocking out Watts in two rounds in 1980. He would not lose again until the final bout of his career ten years later.
Finally, on November 30, 1979, Hagler entered the ring with a record of 46-2-1 to face Vito Antuofermo for his first shot at the world middleweight title. The fight went 15 rounds, and, much to Hagler's consternation, the bout was called a draw, thus Antuofermo retained his title. Eleven months later, after four more wins, Hagler got his second shot at the title, facing England's Alan Minter, who had taken the title from Antuofermo. Hagler pounded Minter during the first round, opening cuts around the boxer's left eye. By the third round Minter was bleeding profusely, forcing the referee to call the fight. Hagler had his first world middleweight title.
In his next seven bouts, Hagler defended his title via three TKOs and four KOs. Despite his dominating presence in the ring, Hagler, who legally added "Marvelous" to his name in 1982, felt as though he wasn't getting the respect, or the big prize fights, he deserved. That changed in November of 1983 when former lightweight and welterweight champion Roberto Duran resurrected his boxing career to challenge Hagler for the middleweight title. The fight itself, much hyped by the media, was itself anti-climactic. Duran, known as an aggressive boxer, worked conservatively against Hagler, throwing the champion off his game plan. Only by forcing the action in the final rounds was Hagler able to retain his title by a narrow margin on points after the full 15 rounds.
Hagler defended his title twice in 1984, knocking out both opponents. His next big fight came on April 15, 1985, when he took on challenger Thomas Hearns, a big name fighter with big-fight experience. Known for his powerful right hand, boxing analysts touted this as the bout that would prove Hagler's worth. The fight, thought by many to be one of the greatest bouts in boxing history, went three rounds. At the bell Hagler attacked with vengeance. Disregarding any boxing technique and defensive strategy, the two pummeled each other throughout the first round. Hearns had a longer reach, but Hagler was stronger. Because Hagler was willing to trade punches, he forced Hearns in close where he could reach him.
By the third round, Hagler was ahead on points but he had multiple cuts that were bleeding, opening the door for Hearns to win on a TKO. When the referee called time out to have a doctor examine him, Hagler knew his time was limited before the referee called the fight. Within a minute after the round resumed, Hagler chased Hearns across the ring and nailed him with three powerful rights. Hearns went down, and although he managed to stagger to his feet, he could not regain his balance, and Hagler was awarded the win on a TKO. It was the champion's defining moment and the highlight of his career.