It’s been over a year since the great Marvelous Marvin Hagler departed this mortal coil and for this fight fan who can vividly recall the excitement of watching Marvelous Marvin in action in the 1980’s, it’s still a bit unreal. Believe it or not, the memories of him battling guys like Caveman Lee and Marcos Geraldo on live television are still fresh, and the thrill of the opening bell to his legendary battle against Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, one of the greatest fights of all-time, remains unforgettable.
That Marvelous Marvin is an all-time great, no one can doubt. He will forever be one of the most feared and accomplished middleweight champions in boxing history, and one of the best southpaws to ever step into the ring. Which begs the question: which performances best exemplify his greatness? Well, leave it to us to catalogue and rank the most impressive victories in Hagler’s legendary career. On the anniversary of his birth, time to look back and appreciate anew one of the greatest boxers who has ever lived, Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Check ’em out:
12. Loucif Hamani, KO 2, February 16, 1980: Convincing victories over David Love and Emile Griffith attested to the fact that Algeria’s Hamani was an accomplished pugilist, both amateur and pro, a fighter who figured to give Marvelous Marvin, at the very least, some serious work. But what Loucif and his people could not have anticipated was that this was a version of “The Marvelous One” primed for destruction, seething as he was over the injustice he suffered three months before when the judges robbed Marvin blind in his first bout against Vito Antuofermo. A raging Hagler wasted no time in demonstrating his superiority, his second round knockout of Hamani among the most vicious in his career.
11. Fulgencio Obelmejias, TKO 8, January 17, 1981: Few knew at the time, and even fewer recall now, but “Fully Obel,” as Marvin liked to call his Venezuelan rival, was a legit contender. The man could fight and went on to have a very respectable career, but a razor sharp Marvelous Marvin completely out-classed him in both of their contests. Obelmejias was the taller, longer man with a busy jab and a serviceable right hand, and he was also tough, as he had to be to last as long as he did in his first clash with “The Marvelous One” at the Boston Garden. It took a few rounds for Hagler to solve the style of Obelmejias, but once he did he dominated, dishing out a vicious, two-fisted battering before the referee mercifully ended the one-sided massacre in round eight.
10. Willie Monroe, TKO 12, August 23, 1977: They called him “Willie The Worm” and the man could box, as wins over Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, Billy “Dynamite” Douglas, and Eugene “Cyclone” Hart attest, but the greatest night of Monroe’s career was in March of 1976 when he went toe-to-toe with Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the Philadelphia Spectrum and won a ten round unanimous decision. This was no robbery; Monroe fought his ass off and gave Hagler his first (and arguably, last) legitimate defeat. So naturally Marvin’s convincing victory in their rematch has to rank on this list. After the first fight, Hagler is on record as saying “I’ve got a lot to learn.” So he went back to Brockton and put in the work and the following year showed everyone he had indeed learned his lessons, out-boxing “The Worm” with ruthless efficiency before getting the TKO in the twelfth and final round.
9. Juan Domingo Roldan, TKO 10, March 30, 1984: At the time no one knew who the hell Roldan was beyond the fact that he had put a sudden and violent end to Frank “The Animal” Fletcher’s run as a top contender, an impressive feat in its own right. But at the time Marvelous Marvin got little credit for rumbling with the rugged Argentine and eventually stopping him in round ten. But looking back this is a damn fine victory seeing as this is the same Roldan who also beat Carlos Herrera, Juan Carlos Gimenez and James Kinchen, and who came very close to knocking out “The Motor City Cobra” in 1987.
8. Vito Antuofermo, D15, November 30, 1979: Yeah, we know, the title is “Top 12 Greatest Victories.” And this wasn’t a victory. Well, screw that. Anyone who watches this fight and says with a straight face that the judges got it right when they scored it a draw and denied Hagler a world title belt needs to get their eyes checked, pronto. Because the truth is this was a gorgeous performance from Marvelous Marvin, one deserving of more accolades than it has ever received as Hagler played matador to Antuofermo’s bull, artfully deflecting and sidestepping Vito’s offensive efforts while landing his own telling shots. It’s no exaggeration to say Hagler won as many as eleven of the fifteen rounds. To hell with the official verdict: this was a victory over one of the best middleweights in the world at the time, and an emphatic one.
7. Mustafa Hamsho, TKO 11, October 3, 1981: Add Hamsho’s name to the list of formidable fighters who might well have become a world champion if not for the unlucky fact that they shared the middleweight turf with an all-time great. The Syrian was exceedingly tough and strong, packed some serious power, and had won 27 straight, with victories over Wilford Scypion, Curtis Parker and Alan Minter. He bravely took the fight to the champion, but Hagler was just too sharp and too smart, side-stepping and parrying Hamsho’s attacks, countering with precision, and winning every round. In the eleventh a series of blows had a worn-out and bloodied Hamsho helpless and the one-sided clinic was stopped.
6. Bennie Briscoe, W10, August 24, 1978: Without question the great “Bad Bennie” was on the downslide by the time he locked-up with Hagler at the Philadelphia Spectrum. But there’s also no doubt that Briscoe, one of the all-time best to never win a world crown, a Philly warrior who twice battled Carlos Monzon and gave the Argentine legend some of his toughest rounds, represented a stern test for the young Marvelous Marvin. Thus it was fitting that a record crowd jammed the Philadelphia Spectrum to see Hagler win a clear-cut ten round decision. Later Briscoe paid Marvin a huge compliment when he opined that the southpaw would have had the edge in a dream fight against Monzon.
5. John Mugabi, KO11, March 10, 1986: No doubt some thought Mugabi, aka “The Beast,” made-to-order for “The Marvelous One.” After all, he was a come-forward slugger, open to Hagler’s pin-point counters, and moving up from the super welterweight division. But in the Ugandan’s career-best performance, he gave Marvin loads of trouble and fans a thrilling war, fighting with remarkable aplomb as he more than held his own. In addition to his offensive skills, Marvelous Marvin showed off his incredible toughness this night, as the dangerous Mugabi slammed home scores of heavy shots but could not shake “The Marvelous One” before Hagler got the clean knockout in round eleven.
4. Roberto Duran, W15, November 10, 1983: At the time many regarded Hagler’s performance against a supposedly over-the-hill “Hands of Stone” rather underwhelming, but this victory has aged like fine wine as Marvelous Marvin clearly got the better of the same Duran who would convincingly defeat Iran Barkley in 1989, and who is now universally regarded as one of the greatest fighters to have ever lived, pound-for-pound. Marvin fought a tactical fight, his ring skills on par with those of the legendary Panamanian, to prevail by clear-cut fifteen round decision.
3. Alan Minter, TKO3, September 27, 1980: No doubt Hagler knew it was do-or-die as he got his second crack at a world title against the capable Briton who had established himself as the top man in the division by twice defeating the tough Antuofermo. A determined Marvelous Marvin boxed with controlled fury on the champion’s home turf of Wembley Arena in London, unleashing a vicious attack in the third round that had a bloodied Minter reeling about the ring before the champion’s trainer signaled surrender. The pro-Minter crowd rioted as the victorious Hagler was whisked to safety by police, but Marvin later said it didn’t matter, that the moment his hand was raised as the new world champ it was “a dream fulfilled.”
2. Tony Sibson, TKO6, February 11, 1983: The game Sibson was not regarded as a great threat to take Hagler’s belt, but at the same time he was the legit top contender for the title, strong and durable, with everything to fight for. And indeed he gave it his all, constantly coming forward and firing big shots. But Hagler was so sharp, so much in command, he made his opponent look like a rank amateur at times, Marvin’s footwork, jab, defense, stance-switching, and combinations all working in sync, as Marvelous Marvin put on a clinic for his Massachusetts fans. Close observers already knew Hagler was a master boxer, but against Sibson he was so impressive, so dominant, he looked virtually unbeatable. From a technical point of view, this is Marvelous Marvin’s most masterful performance.
1. Thomas Hearns, TKO3, April 15, 1985: There can be no question as to what victory belongs at the very top of this list. Hagler vs Hearns was a blockbuster, one of the biggest “superfights” of the 1980’s, a clash of the two best boxers on the planet, and it more than lived up to the hype. Hearns was coming off a shocking two round destruction of Roberto Duran, while Hagler had never faced a challenger as formidable as “The Hit Man.” The legendary “Eight Minutes of Fury” is now part of boxing lore and it saw Hagler overcome the power of Hearns and a bad cut to put his rival down and out in round three. The victory cemented Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s status as not just one of the great middleweight champions, but as, pound-for-pound, one of the best of all-time.