There are greats and then there is ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler, and boxing has lost a true legend with the death of the former undisputed world middleweight champion.
Hagler’s wife Kay left the sport in mourning when she announced he had died suddenly at home on Saturday aged 66.
“Today, unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire,” she said.
Hagler, with his shaven head, Adonis-like body and unflashy style was very much old school.
He disliked the business of boxing and his sole objective was to destroy his opponent.
He was named Fighter of the Decade in the 1980s and dominated in an era of giants.
He was dubbed one of ‘The Four Kings’ with rivals Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns and the nine fights between them remain the stuff of legend.
Hagler beat Duran, stopped Hearns in a classic before losing his world crown to Leonard in one of boxing’s most-controversial decisions.
Born in Newark, New Jersey in May, 1954, Hagler’s family moved to Brockton, Massachusetts, where he made his pro debut five days before his 19 th birthday in May 1973 in the local high school gym.
He became undisputed world middleweight champion on a shameful night for British boxing in September 1980 when he destroyed Alan Minter in three rounds at Wembley Arena and had to be escorted from the ring by police when fans rioted.
The southpaw made 12 successful defences, including a close decision against Duran in November 1983, and then his clash with Hearns in April 1985, which is remembered as ‘The War’.
The first round is regarded by many as the best three minutes of boxing ever as these two titans tried to knock each other out.
Hagler had blood gushing from two cuts and referee Richard Steele stopped the action to ask if he could still see.
Hagler replied, “I’m hitting him, aren’t I?”and flattened Hearns in the third to win by a stoppage.
His reign ended in controversial circumstances in April 1987 when he lost a contentious split decision to Leonard.
Hagler quit boxing because he was so disgusted with a record of 62-3-2, including 52 knock-outs, and enhanced his legacy by refusing huge offers to return.
He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993 and Lennox Lewis led the tributes to him.
“I’m simply stunned to hear the news of Marvelous Marvin Hagler,” said the former undisputed world heavyweight king. “Not only was he a living legend, but I was proud to call him my friend.”
Former promoter Bob Arum said: “He was a man of honour and a man of his word. He performed in the ring with unparalleled determination.”
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