April is a hard month for me. It is the month where my favorite fighter, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, fell victim to the Crime of the Century. Even, more tragic, April was the month that I lost my grandmother, a beautiful woman who brought stability and joy to my life. She lost her battle with cancer on April 13th, 1985, two days before Marvelous Marvin Hagler faced off against Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns for all the marbles.
As a result, I did not see The Fight live. I didn’t even know about the result until the next day. I remember like it was yesterday, reading the results in the New York Daily News on Tuesday April the 16th, the day the symbol of my child was buried. It was the first time I failed to see a Marvin Hagler fight live since his first tussle with Vito Antuofermo. Many of his fights I watched on HBO with my grandmother. We both missed Marvin’s biggest victory. A tragedy for me at the time.
It was not until a few weeks later that I saw the fight. The replay was aired on ABC, and what a fight it was. I was still mourning, so I probably did not get as demonstrative as I typically do when I watched Marvin fight. But every hair on my body did its best imitation of a Marine throughout the fight.
Even though I knew the outcome, I cringed when I saw Marvin doubled over after Hearns landed bombs that would knock out an elephant. I panicked when Al Bernstein said, “There is blood all over Marvin Hagler’s face.” I cursed Referee Richard Steele when he stopped the action so the doctor could check on Hagler’s cut. Even the doctor, Donald Romeo, seemed annoyed that Steele would do such a thing, as he said, “It’s not bothering his sight let him go”, in a scolding manner. Soon after, Hagler put an end to this great battle by landing a right hook to Hearns’ temple, with Tommy doing the greatest chicken dance in boxing history. The capacity crowd immediately went into a eutrophic state, as they knew they just witnessed one of the best fights in boxing history.
Looking back at this fight 32 years later, it still holds up as one of the greatest in boxing history. The fight finds its way on most boxing fans top ten favorite, I say favorite because it is the only kind of list I like to discuss. Round one finds its way on most fans top five rounds of all-time. Another fascinating thing about this fight is virtually everyone I have spoken with over the age of 50 was at this fight! Amazing. Another sporting event of such nature is the 1976 Chris Chambliss game (only baseball fans will get this) I know at least 100 people who claim to be at this game.
A fight that goes less than three rounds would not be a fight were the scorecards would have much of an impact. With that said, the scorecards for this fight are not talked about enough. Two out of the three judges gave Hagler the monumental first round; Harry Gibbs and Herb Santos. Certainly, not too much to argue, as it was a round that could have gone either way. Round two is where it gets interesting. Judge Dick Young scored round two for Hearns, the same way he scored round one. It appeared the second round was a clear Hagler round. Dick Young said otherwise.
Another peculiar thing about this fight is that Harry Gibbs, who scored the first two rounds for Hagler, was the judge that the Hagler camp protested for the Leonard fight. Odd, considering Gibbs showed in this fight he had a good eye for aggression. It would have served the Hagler camp better to protest Dave Moretti, a judge who was often erratic in my opinion. Moretti had Hagler up only by a point in his fight with Mugabi. What? Why the Hagler camp saw Gibbs as a red flag and not Moretti is beyond me. Of course, Harry Gibbs has gone on record saying he scored that fight for Hagler. Ironic that the one thing Hagler’s camp made a stink about cost him the most, in that Crime of the Century.
Okay, back to The Fight.
I would also like to point out how great Hearns was on this night. I can say with full confidence that Hearns beats any other modern middleweight on April 15th, 1985. The shots he absorbed from Marvin were terrifying. Why some people still question his chin must have kept their eyes closed during round one. Also, the fact that he beat the count after the knockdown speaks of how great his resolve was. Tommy was only knocked out for the count once in his career, certainly nothing weak chinned about him. The shots he landed would have made most others crumble. Hearns broke his hand on Hagler’s hard dome. A circumstance he most likely would not have suffered on the average dome; as nobody had a harder head that Hagler, and therefore not impeding his performance.
This fight also showcases one of Marvin’s greatest attributes, and I do not mean his chin or hard head. Despite having a major advantage in height, Hearns’ reach was only three inches longer than Marvin’s. Hagler’s reach has often been overlooked and it was a major reason why he had such a great right jab (see The Crime of the Century). In this fight, however, Hagler abandoned the jab, yet, was still able to land on Hearns from distance, and land with hard stuff. Who else could have landed such devastating hooks from distance on Hearns, while Hearns was moving and controlling distance? The idea that this fight was just a pure street brawl is not exactly accurate. Both fighters were very accurate and calculated with the punches they delivered. Hagler was just able to sustain it longer. He also did not break his hand.
My last point about this fight is, well it is more of a question? Why was there not an immediate rematch? With Tommy breaking his hand, there was certainly enough to suggest he deserved another chance. It certainly would have sold. Instead, Hagler fought Mugabi and Hearns fought James Shuler; I suppose these fights were ‘tune ups’ for the rematch. Of course, the rematch was never to be, as Hagler was just about done with boxing after the Mugabi brawl; he said as much to Al Bernstein in that post fight interview. Hearns went on to collect more titles, including a major upset over Hall of Famer Virgil Hill for the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Hagler and Hearns are both inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame and are two of the most popular living pugilists today. They will forever be linked together, providing boxing fans with seven minutes and fifty-two seconds of pure violence and euphoria, as only combat sports can provide. We will never forget. Grandma would have been proud.Contact the Feature Writers