The Greatest First Round in Boxing History
This fight was huge. Everyone following the fight knew that something had to give. Marvin Hagler had the middleweight championship, and Tommy Hearns entered as the mandatory #1 challenger. Hagler had been the champion for five years when the fight took place. Tommy Hearns was long and could box, but when he needed to fight on the inside he could do that too. Boxing fans knew they were going to get something great. Not in their wildest dreams could they have imagined what they'd get.
The Tale of Hagler and Hearns
Marvin Hagler had defended the belt ten times going into the fight with Tommy Hearns. Nine of his ten defenses of the title had been knockouts. The only fighter of the ten to go the 15 round distance was Roberto Duran. Hagler had endured a tough road to obtaining the title belt, and he had no intentions of letting it go.
Tommy Hearns had moved up from welterweight to junior middleweight where he'd capture the championship belt. He would go on and defend the title three times before running into Sugar Ray Leonard. Hearns would lose the belt to Leonard in his fourth defense. Marcos Geraldo had fought both men. He went the distance with Hagler, but Hearns had knocked him out in the first round.
The fight would only go three rounds. Still it's remembered for the display of brutality by both fighters. Marvin Hagler likes to feel his opponents out, but he must have wanted to catch Hearns by surprise. Hagler came out super aggressive and went right at Hearns.
Tommy Hearns got a message before the fight. Trainer Emanuel Steward felt like it was going to weaken his legs over the course of the fight, so the game plan was to go right after Hagler and get on him quick.
The plan for both men was to go right after their man. Their fight plan lead to one of the best first rounds in boxing history.
As you can see from the video above the first round was absolutely brutal. They went right after each other and neither was willing to relent. They were out for blood and trying to knock each other out. It was brutally clear after the 1st round that the fight would not be going the distance.
In the second round it was clear that Tommy Hearns was fighting on tired legs. He would admit after the fight that his legs were gone. He tried to box Hagler who was switching from southpaw to orthodox trying to do maximum damage. The pace of the fight had slowed down from what the first round had provided.
The 3rd round would provide the end. Tommy was on weakened legs. So he did the only thing he could do and that's keep Marvin at the end of his punches. He tried to box and keep that safe distance. He managed to really open the cut up on Marvin's face. He'd been cut in the first round but the blood was really coming down his face in the 3rd.
The referee had the doctor look at the cut on Hagler's face. They let him go because the blood was not affecting his sight. Marvin got worried the the cut would become an issue and maybe cause a stoppage. He opened up with a relentless attack and went after Tommy Hearns with knockout on his mind. Tommy still wanted to box at this point, but Tommy had knockout power.
Marvin hit him with several punches that had him looking for the ropes. Tommy's movements indicated he was hurt, and then just moments later he smiled at Hagler as if to say I'm not hurt. He wasn't just hurt, he was a beaten and defeated fighter. Tommy hadn't been able to keep him off of him, and Hagler landed a vicious right hand that landed on the button. Tommy Hearns looked dead as he hit the floor. Amazingly he managed to beat the count and got up. The ref grabbed him and called a halt to the bout. Tommy was basically out on his feet. The champion Marvin Hagler had a blood painted face. Both men went through hell and will always be remembered for the brutal display of boxing that took place that night.
The Full Fight