Thomas “Hitman” Hearns vs. “Marvellous” Marvin Hagler from April 1985 was billed as “The Fight” but after eight minutes of brutal action it became remembered as “The War”.
The fight was perhaps one of the greatest of all time and was awarded the prestigious “Fight of the Year” accolade by The Ring Magazine; a remarkable achievement when you consider that it only lasted two and a half rounds.
Caesars Palace was the luxurious setting for the brutal bout which would’ve taken place two years earlier if it hadn’t been for a hand injury Hearns sustained during training. Hagler was riled by his opponent’s decision to pull out of the bout but Hearns, rightly so, stated that he wanted to be 100% ready for the fight.
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The first round was an all-out war. There was no “feeling out” period, no clutching, no defence, just an overload of powerful, offensive boxing. Hagler landed a right hook, followed by a left to the body of Hearns within the first ten seconds of the fight. Hearns responded well and landed a huge right uppercut which hurt Hagler.
Hagler, to his credit, continued to stalk Hearns despite being hurt and he landed a couple of good right hands to Hearns, who was trying to box and move. In the final minute, there was a brilliant exchange on the inside with both men landing huge blows and neither giving an inch. Hagler’s face was a bloody mess as the bell rang to signal the end of the round; a truly remarkable three minutes of boxing.
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The second, despite not being as exhilarating as the first, still had a lot of entertaining action. Hagler, who was boxing southpaw, once again started the round strongly. He landed a lovely left hand to the chin of Hearns which sent the younger fighter into retreat. Hearns was trying to outbox Hagler as much as he could; constantly moving and trying to stay at distance.
Hagler, though, switched to orthodox and landed a good right hook, followed by a left hand which sent Hearns onto the back foot. Hagler was then able to rough up Hearns; he landed a number of low blows and had the upper hand towards the end of the round.
Hearns was clearly hurt in the second round, so he attempted to box and move as much as he could in the third. Hagler, though, was still able to catch Hearns when he came in close and he looked like the more dangerous fighter in the early stages. Midway through the round, the ringside doctor had to check on Hagler’s cut, but he came to the verdict that it wasn’t threatening enough to stop the fight. Thank God.
Hagler then landed a big left hook to Hears, who, despite being under pressure, came back with a left hook of his own. Hagler then landed a big right hand which forced Hearns onto the ropes; Hearns was smiling, but he was taking a lot of punishment.
The punch that signalled the beginning of the end was a right hand from Hagler which caught Hearns flush on the chin. Hearns turned his back before momentarily regaining his balance, only to be hit by another right hand. Hearns was floored; the fight was over.