Boxing Retrospective: Hagler vs. Hearns

This piece originally ran in the August 10, 2017 edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter. For news, results, analysis, rankings, and retrospectives, check out the free Fightful Boxing Newsletter each Thursday morning.

***

This week's Fightful's retrospective takes a look at one of the most exciting middleweight title matches of all time between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. Hearns, the unified middleweight champion, fought Hagler, who was the top rated middleweight boxer up to that point in what would probably be the greatest short boxing match in history.

In what is certainly the 1990s equivalent of Canelo vs. GGG, Hagler vs. Hearns was a barnstormer that pitted arguably two of the best pound-for-pound boxers of their times.

The amazing part of this war was how short it was. Clocking in at a WWE Brock Lesnar-Bill Goldberg match of 7:52, the match had been described as the most exciting eight minutes in the history of boxing.   

This fight, which could be seen in the video below, was suggested to me by @vgmightyp on Twitter. If you want to see a fight being featured on the Fightful Boxing Retrospective section, you can participate either in the comments section below, in the Fightful boxing forums, or Tweet me @CarlosToro360

Round 1: Right off the bat, Hagler tries to attack the body with a jab. Hearns throws various left hooks, which don't really land on Hagler. Hearns eventually lands a right hook at Hagler after Hearns is on the ropes and then lands a body shot on Hagler. Hagler is in trouble early after Hearns starts landing a flurry of short punches, mostly uppercuts to Hagler's body. Hagler is hurt and as he is getting his body hit left and right, he clinches with Hearns to try and stop the punishment. Following the clinch, Hagler lands a solid left hook and ducks under Hearns' left hook. Both men exchange punches and Hagler lands a hard left. Hagler is on the offensive now as he has Hearns on the ropes. Hearns is now moving around in the ring, tagging Hagler with right jabs. Hagler is now landing numerous jabs. Hagler lands a hard right hand to Hearns' face. Hearns lands a good right hand to Hagler's body. Hagler now is cut after eating a couple of punches from Hearns. Hagler is now landing a few hard right hands that hurts Hearns and has him on the ropes. Hagler is attacking the body once more as Hearns tries to box his way out of this predicament and eventually gets out. 

Fightful scored round 1 for Hagler 10-9

Round 2: Hagler starts off with a lead left and both men are exchanging punches, but not really landing much. Hearns tries to land a few jabs, then a right hand. Hearns remains moving across the ring and is switching stances throughout the round. Hagler stuns Hearns momentarily, but not much happened as a result of that. Hearns is now trying to land the left hook, but doesn't have much luck doing so. Hagler is stalking Hearns, throwing the occasional body shot here and there. Hearns head movement throughout this round has been great as he's able to avoid a couple of punches upstairs from Hagler midway through the round. Hearns misses a weak hook and Hagler counters with a good left hand. Hagler lands a right jab well. Hagler misses a left hand by a country mile and both men are back to exchanging blows. Hagler's cut opens up even more, but still finds a way to land an effective left hand to Hearns. Hearns is trapped in the ropes and Hagler lands a flurry of body shots as the round ends.

Fightful scored round 2 for Hagler 10-9

Round 3: The commentators are right when they say that this is a street fight. Hagler tries to attack Hearns' body, but the challenger is still moving across the ring. Hearns lands a four-punch combo, but Hagler tries to trap Hearns to the corner again, but instead the two clinch. The referee calls time as Hagler's cut is getting worse. The ring doctor looks at hagler for a very quick second and the fight resumes. Hagler goes to work on Hearns' body, but Hearns is still able to bounce back from all the punishment he's been receiving. Hearns eats a right hand from Hagler and looks hurt, runs away and even turns his back to Hagler. Hagler pounces on Hearns, knocking Hearns down. It looks like Hearns is not able to beat the count, but he gets back up at nine, but the referee knows Hearns can't continue and Hagler is still the middleweight champion.

Watching this fight has me worried a bit for Canelo vs. GGG. Seeing the similarities of the circumstances between Hagler-Hearns and the September 16 fight, it's hard to imagine Canelo and Golovkin having a similar fight. That's not to say they aren't capable of having a historically great fight. Golovkin is one of the sport's best knockout artists while Canelo has proven time and time again that he is a very hard puncher and has incredible technical fundamentals that translate to a very good fight.

If Canelo-GGG is anywhere as exciting as Hagler-Hearns, then the sport will benefit greatly and could help further revitalize boxing's popularity among casual fans and mainstream audiences.