April 16, 1985 -
The hype was enormous, the action enormously entertaining.
In a middleweight title matchup at Las Vegas billed as "The War," champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns slugged each other furiously for three rounds. Standing toe to toe much of the way, the two threw 339 punches in eight minutes as the crowd at Caesars Palace's outdoors stadium roared appreciatively.
Unknown at the time, Hearns -- the junior middleweight champ -- broke his right hand in the opening round but kept pounding away. Hagler's forehead was spewing blood.
After the fight was delayed early in the third round to check on Hearns' cuts, the champion turned up the power, concerned that the bout might be stopped. A series of Hagler right hands followed by a left knocked out "The Hitman" at 2:01 of the third.
"You have to take something to get something," said Hagler (61-2-2), who was riding a nine-year unbeaten streak. "And I went right in there after him."
Said Hearns, who suffered his second loss: "I hope the people got their money's worth."
Odds 'n' Ends
During the Newark riots of 1967, Hagler's mother, Ida Mae, locked her six children inside their apartment for three consecutive days. In 1969, she moved the family to Brockton, Mass.
Hagler grew up with half-brother Robbie Sims, who also became a middleweight boxer, and four sisters: Cheryl, Veronica, Genarra and Noreen.
Hagler's co-managers, Goody and Pat Petronelli, grew up in Brockton with boxing legend Rocky Marciano and were former boxers themselves.
In winning the 165-pound division at the 1973 AAU nationals, Hagler beat Terry Dobbs of Atlanta in the final. He was voted the tournament's outstanding boxer.
His pro debut came on May 18, 1973 in Brockton, where he stopped Terry Ryan in the second round on a TKO.
Hagler sent several fighters straight to the hospital. He broke Mike Colbert's jaw in a 1977 bout, and the next year beat Kevin Finnegan so badly that Finnegan needed 40 face stitches.
He trained in solitude for years on Cape Cod, near where the Pilgrims landed, and called his camps "Jail."
In a 1978 Sports Illustrated story, Hagler was quoted as saying: "Joe Frazier once told me I had three strikes against me. I'm a southpaw, I'm black and I can punch. Maybe I should have been born a righthanded white sissy."
Hagler won 20 straight fights up to his 1979 title bout with Vito Antuofermo. One of the most important was a 10-round decision over Philadelphia's highly regarded Bennie Briscoe in 1978.
When Hagler took the title from Briton Alan Minter in 1980 at Wembley Arena, he never got his arm raised in victory or received his champion's belt in the ring. He had to be whisked to the locker room because angry fans threw so many beer bottles when the fight was stopped in the third round.
Upset that television networks wouldn't use his nickname, "Marvelous," he changed his name legally in 1982 from Marvin Nathaniel Hagler to Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
His 12 successful title defenses were two short of the middleweight record set by Carlos Monzon.
In 1984, when Hagler beat Mustafa Hamsho for the second time, he put the Syrian-born fighter on the mat in the third round before knocking him out later in the round. It was the first time Hamsho had been knocked down.
The combined record of Hagler's title opponents when he faced them: 444-25-6 (.931 won-loss percentage).
In The Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time, Hagler ranked No. 35.
Hagler turned down a chance to fight Leonard again in 1990, a fight that could have paid him $15 million.
A scholarship in Hagler's name helps students in financial need at Massasoit Community College in Brockton.
He had five children with his first wife, Bertha: Charelle, Celeste, James, Marvin Jr., and Gentry.
Hagler and his second wife, Kay, an Italian woman, live in the Milan suburbs about six months a year. He also has homes in Brockton and Conway, N.H.