A Marvelous Life: Marvin Hagler Was Quintessential Boxing

    There will never be another “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.

    Hagler was your favorite boxer’s favorite boxer, which is why his death over the weekend was absolutely devastating.

    A juggernaut of the middleweight division, Hagler was the lean mean pride of Brockton, Massachusetts. His career is a touch point in the soul of the sport as he can be seen in so many fighters today.

    The laser focused fearlessness of Terence “Bud” Crawford, the dog within “Showtime” Shawn Porter or the hellacious power of Gervonta”Tank” Davis.

    All of this and more was Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

    Hagler, 66, died Saturday with his wife, Kay, announcing his death on Hagler’s Facebook fan page:

    “I am sorry to make a very sad announcement,” she wrote. “Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire. Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

    Having fought on the biggest stages of the sport during the Golden eighties era, Hagler’s bouts were complimented by being one of the four kings of the middleweight division.

    “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns and Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran dominated the middleweight division in the 1980s.

    READ MORE: Sugar Ray Leonard – An Exclusive With The Shadow League

    While the rest were flashy and somewhat boisterous, Hagler stood out as the quiet menacing force with a brooding public persona. All Hagler wanted to do was fight and win, nothing else mattered.

    Hagler fought 67 times over his14 year as pro career amassing a record of 62-3-2 with 52 knockouts.

    He won the WBA, WBC, and The Ring middleweight titles with a third round TKO over Alan Minter at Wembley Arena in September 1980. Three years later he would also win the inaugural IBF title with a fourth round TKO over Wilford Scypion at the Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

    However, when he defeated Roberto Duran in 1983, via unanimous decision after 15 rounds, at the legendary Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, it began a head hunt for all the division kings.

    Two years later on April 15th, 1985, Hagler would take on Tommy Hearns and engage in the most epic eight minutes in boxing history.  What was initially billed as “The Fight” became known as “The War”  where after an initial straight right to Hagler’s chin, he walk through Tommy Hearns in a way that seemed otherworldly.

    Lasting only eight minutes and one second, Hagler scored an epic knockdown and TKO victory over Hearns in the third round. The classic fight is now considered a work of pugilistic art that will live forever.

    Hagler’s final challenge was “Sugar” Ray Leonard who at that time had only lost to Roberto Duran as a welterweight. When he decided to step up to face Hagler as a middleweight, many believed he would be run through marvelously.

    After a three year retirement, “ Sugar” Ray Leonard was declared the winner by split decision with controversial scores of 118-110, 115-113, and 115-113. It is still the most debated outcome in the history of boxing.

    After requesting a rematch and Leonard opting to retire again, Marvin Hagler retired from boxing in June 1988. He wouldn’t wait for Leonard anymore and for him the biggest loss of his career was a loss for boxing.

    Marvin Hagler represented a hard scrabble, straight forward boxing life that wasn’t concerned with politics or fame. When they entered his life, he bounced from the game.

    There will never be another boxer who lived the sport so principled and passionately.

    Hagler was simply marvelous.

    Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.