#6 Marvin Hagler - Top 10 of Boxing’s Most Terrifying Fighters
Marvin Nathaniel Hagler happened to be my favorite boxer when I was growing up following boxing closely. I think I liked Hagler because of his mean mug, and a bald head that made him look menacing. His skills in the ring made him one of the fiercest fighters of his time. His nickname came from a Lowell, Massachusetts reporter after the writer had seen him fight but the name became legal in 1982 when Hagler went to the courts to have his first name changed to “Marvelous” because boxing analysts on television kept calling him Marvin.
In a career that began professionally on May 18, 1973, with a knockout of Terry Ryan, Hagler began his climb to the top of the middleweight division by scoring knockout after knockout moving up the ranks of the division one-by-one. After 17 straight victories to begin his career, Hagler ran faced a rematch with another Sugar Ray in boxing, this one named Seales. Sugar Ray Seales and Marvelous fought to a majority draw after Hagler had scored a unanimous decision victory in their first meeting.
Eight wins later, Hagler traveled to Philadelphia where he faced the cousin of heavyweight boxer Jimmy Young, one Bobby Watts. In a controversial majority decision loss, Hagler argued he won that fight. Four years later they would meet again and this time Hagler scored a TKO in just the second round. In that same year (1976) that Hagler lost to Watts, he also lost to Willie Monroe and just as it was with Watts, the fight was in his opponent’s current residence of Philadelphia, inside the Spectrum and the result was the same…a controversial majority decision.
Determined to fight for the middleweight championship of the world, Marvelous Marvin Hagler would win his next 20 fights in a row including winning the Massachusetts title for his division and the North American title as a middleweight. Campaigning and calling for a title shot, he finally to it on November 30, 1979, when he challenged Vito Antuofermo for the world middleweight title. The result was a split decision draw.
The judges' cards only angered Marvin Hagler that much more as he felt disrespected and that the powers to be had been avoiding give him a title shot up to that point. Meanwhile, Antuofermo lost his title a year later to Britain’s Alan Minter. In a near-immediate rematch, Minter won again. That was on June 28, 1980, just three months removed from their first fight. Alan Minter had no fear of the Marvelous one and just three months later allowed Hagler to fight for the title but in his home country of England in the famous Wembley Arena in London.
In just three short and brutal rounds, Hagler picked apart Alan Minter turning him into a bloody mess and by winning the middleweight championship of the world, the fans in attendance were so upset their fighter lost, Hagler to had be rushed out of the ring and arena protected from the shower of debris being thrown down in his direction.
Marvin Hagler finally had won what he wanted all along - the middleweight division crown that he would defend an impressive 12 times before Sugar Ray Leonard moved up a division to challenge him. Beginning in 1983 boxing’s factions (WBC, WBA, IBF, etc.) began to change title bouts from 15 rounds to 12 rounds mostly because of the death of Duk Ku Kim in his bout with Ray Mancini. Thus the fight between Sugar Ray and Marvelous while a title fight was scheduled for just 12 rounds.
The “super fight” was held in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 6, 1987, and I was witness to the bout. For the first four rounds, and for some peculiar reason, Marvin Hagler was not aggressive as he normally is perhaps because of Leonard’s boxing skills, so he essentially gave away the first four rounds. Then the tide began to turn but I’ve always contended that had this been a 15 round fight, Hagler would have won. Instead, Leonard was granted a split decision victory, angering Marvin Hagler and after demanding a rematch, Leonard retired after having come out of retirement for this fight. Leonard would relent and reportedly the rematch would have netted Hagler around $15 million, but Hagler had decided he was done with boxing and preferred pursuing an acting career in Italy where he remains to this day.
In retirement, Marvin Hagler left behind a 67 fight career in which he won 62 times but he knocked out 52 opponents for a ratio of 78%, one of the highest marks in middleweight history. His reign as champion from 1980 to 1987 is the second-longest in history. In regards to his legacy. Marvelous Marvin Hagler leaves behind a trail of terror and earns his spot among this list.