Super Fight 1: Thomas Hearns vs. Marvin Hagler

History August 31, 2013

Published on August 31, 2013 on ESPN

It is a great time for boxing, with one of the best years of the sport in recent times just by completing two third parts, and a handful of large functions yet to be done before the turn of the calendar again.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr. defending his Crown pound-for-pound against the Mexican favorite “Canelo” Alvarez September 14, Juan Manuel Márquez in search of a fifth Crown against welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, Jr on October 12. Manny Pacquiao is preparing to bring world class boxing to China against Brandon Ríos on November 23. There has never been a better time to celebrate the splendors of the fights in boxing today.

Then in the next 10 days we will make the countdown of the best fights of boxing in the ESPN era (going back to September 7, 1979, for those interested exact date you), selected by our panel of experts. Of course, we know that they exist, ahem, disagreements about a topic as subjective, so we’d like to know what say about our choices, receive yours and hear any other comments that are related with the new project. Only send a Tweet using the hashtag #ESPNsuperfights and probably let us underline your comment.

There are rife with action fights, and then there is this: the unforgettable spectacle of Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, who was hit with a foolish indulgence so impressive, that he came to be venerated as the bout of action par excellence, that with which all others are compared. The fight did not last long – less than three complete rounds (8 minutes, 1 second, to be exact) – but perhaps they were more electrifying three rounds in the history of boxing. There were three rounds of pure violence on the biggest stage of boxing, between two of the best in the business, along with Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Durán, defined sport in the decade of the 1980s.

Both Hagler and Hearns would have preferred a bout against Leonard. Hagler was hungry by reflectors and the great offer that would bring, and Hearns wanted the rematch of his only defeat, a knockout in 14 rounds in his legendary bout in 1981, by the undisputed welterweight title. But with Leonard in one of his retreats and outside the scene, Hagler and Hearns signed up one to the other.

Hagler, aged 30 and 60-2-2 record (with 50 knockouts and having avenged both defeats), was the undisputed champion middle. Hearns, 26 years old, had a mark of 40-1 with 34 KO, and had left behind the defeat against Leonard obtaining Crown super welterweight champion, but would raise weight to challenge for the Crown from Hagler at 160 pounds.

Many forget that Hagler and Hearns were originally scheduled to fight in May 1982, but Hearns suffered a right hand injury, forcing the fight to be postponed and subsequently cancelled, enraging Hagler.


165: The number of punches in the epic first-round (83 by Hearns and Hagler by 82), according to Compubox.

Both continued fighting against other rivals, but when it was the right time, Hagler-Hearns was eventually agreed upon again, this time for the April 15, 1985, in the sand in the air free of the famed Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. A massive promotion followed, including a nearly two-week press tour, in more than 20 cities across the country.

Day after day, Hagler and Hearns were face to face, were insulted each other and answered the same questions again and again. They quickly tired is one of the other, and bothered in such way that almost come to blows during the press tour. On more than one occasion.

For when it was time to enter the ring, it seemed that they wanted to kill each other.

After a huge promotion, when he rang the Bell, there was no waiting time. They attacked one another, and the fight was underway. Blow after blow, no man gave an incredible first round, considered by many as the greatest in the history of boxing.

It was absolute madness.

Hagler hurt Hearns immediately with a right hand, and they spent the rest of the round engaged in ferocious series of exchanges.

Hearns punched a cut on the forehead to Hagler and, as we learned later, also broke his right hand – the weapon of power that had dispatched many of his leading rivals.

“It was a complete fight, accomplished in three minutes,” told the chronicler Michaels when the round ended.

The rate fell in the second round, but this is relative. There was no way to match the fast pace that the fighters had been imposed in the first three minutes. Anyway, it was full of action while Hearns with slightly weak legs.

They spent the last 30 seconds of the second round in an extended Exchange, while blood flowed from the cut in the front of Hagler. His corner did an admirable job closing it between episodes, but was opened again in the third round. With Hagler the blood-covered face, referee Richard Steele called time to ringside physician will review the cut.

Dismayed obviously from that fight it could be stopped by the cut, Hagler was launched by knockout, pressing even more than it had done in the first two rounds. He hit Hearns with a right hand that shook it and maintained the pressure, eventually connecting another clean right to the side of the head of Hearns, which staggered him. Hagler went on with other two straight rights that left flaccid Hearns and falling to the canvas like a discarded towel. Somehow, a semi-conscious Hearns was able to get up at the count of nine, but he was gone. Steele put an arm around Hearns, and flew another arm at the top, putting an end to one of the most incredible fights in boxing history.

Hagler, whose face was covered by a mask of blood, held, while Hearns was charged back to his corner by an assistant. They had fought three rounds that will live forever.