The 30th Anniversary of “The War”

ShamarieStarred Page By Shamarie, 16th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Combat sports

Thirty years ago, boxing greats Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns had the greatest eight-minute prizefight of all time.

"The War"

Three decades ago, on April 15, 1985, my all-time favorite boxing match occurred in Caesars Palace in Paradise, Nevada. Billed as "The War", it was a world middleweight championship boxing match between Undisputed Champion "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler and challenger Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns, who was himself the world's junior middleweight champion. Many boxing fans considered the epic prizefight to be among the finest boxing matches in history, due to its constant action, drama, and back-and-forth exchanges. I considered "The War" the greatest middleweight championship boxing match of the 1980s. It had a great buildup and lived up to the hype. I can watch the fight numerous times because it had everything that makes a great fight.

"Marvelous" Marvin Hagler

"Marvelous" Marvin Hagler had been the undisputed champion of the middleweight division for nearly five years by 1985. A dominant boxer, Marvin Hagler was renowned for his conditioning and durability, suffering only one official knockdown in his career, against Juan Domingo Roldan, an incident Hagler always insisted should have been ruled a slip. By the time he fought Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler had successfully defended the title ten times. He was approaching the middleweight record of 14 title defenses, held by Argentine boxing great Carlos Monzón, who was the middleweight champion for seven years.

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Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns

Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns was the number one ranked middleweight in the WBC, WBA, and IBF. He recently moved up from the welterweight to the junior middleweight to the middleweight division. Boxing enthusiasts regarded him as one of the hardest punchers of all time, winning 30 of his first 32 bouts by knockout. By 1985, Thomas Hearns defeated several middleweights including boxing great Roberto Durán by a dramatic second-round knockout. Thomas Hearns Hearns was named fighter of the year by The Ring magazine in 1980 and 1984. A prizefight with Marvin Hagler garnered significant media attention and fan interest around the world. It became the most intriguing matchup since Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns.

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The Fight

From the moment the bell rang, the two prizefighters began trading power punches, with Marvin Hagler trying to get inside and to pin Thomas Hearns to the ropes. In the process, he succeeded in stunning Thomas Hearns with a hard left hand. Thomas Hearns tied up Marvin Hagler again and tried to slow the pace by boxing rather than trading power punches with Marvin Hagler, who was still the aggressor. The slugfest continued for the better part of the next two and a half minutes as both fighters traded heavy blows with little regard for defense or pacing. Marvin Hagler developed a cut on his forehead but didn't slow as he pinned Thomas Hearns to the ropes and meted out more punishment, eventually hurting Thomas Hearns at the end of the round.

By the beginning of the second round, Thomas Hearns looked weary as he slowed the pace by boxing Marvin Hagler. Thomas Hearns stumbled several times as he attempted to move around the ring and change direction. Marvin Hagler experimented by switching to orthodox style for a moment but switched back to southpaw, as he found more success countering Thomas Hearns' jab. By the end of the round, Marvin Hagler pinned Thomas Hearns to the ropes, successfully landing a volley of punches. The action in round two had slowed from the blistering pace of round one.

In round three, Thomas Hearns again tried to set the pace. Nearly a minute into the round, the cut on Marvin Hagler's forehead inflicted in the first round opened up, resulted in a tremendous flow of blood down his face.

Referee Richard Steele halted the action to have the ringside physician examine Marvin Hagler. He informed Steele, "No the cut's not bothering his sight, let him go." Facing the new threat of losing the fight via stoppage on cuts, Marvin Hagler attacked Thomas Hearns with the aggression of the first round. A tremendous overhand left to the head drove Thomas Hearns back to the ropes. Thomas Hearns backed away, smiling to suggest the punch had not hurt him. Marvin Hagler landed a hard right hook high on Thomas Hearns' head. The blow staggered Thomas Hearns, who awkwardly stumbled backwards into the ropes, Marvin Hagler running after him in hot pursuit. The champion smashed a vicious right hand to Thomas Hearns' chin. Hearns went limp and fell forward, as Hagler landed two uppercuts. Thomas Hearns fell to the canvas. He staggered to his feet at the count of nine, but he was unable to continue. Referee Steele stopped the bout as he held Thomas Hearns upright. The image of a blood-soaked Marvin Hagler being carried around the ring in victory by his handlers and Thomas Hearns being carried back to his corner in semi-consciousness remains to this day a graphic testimony of the intensity of "The War."

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The Aftermath

"The War” was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Marvin Hagler's career and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest middleweights of all time. Despite the loss, Thomas Hearns garnered a tremendous amount of respect from fans and boxing aficionados alike. The Ring called the fight "the most electrifying eight minutes ever," and it won the fight of the year for 1985, despite lasting only three rounds.

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Boxing, Marvin Hagler, The War, Thomas Hearns

Meet the author

author avatar Shamarie
I am a passionate writer from Harlem, New York. My expertise is creative writing and poetry. I enjoy expressing myself freely on paper and sharing my ideas with the world.

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author avatar Carol Roach
17th Apr 2015 (#)

great recap

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author avatar Shamarie
19th Apr 2015 (#)

Thanks Carol!!! And thank you, Mark, for the star merit!!!

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author avatar Retired
19th Apr 2015 (#)

Excellent post!

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author avatar Shamarie
20th Apr 2015 (#)

Thanks, CM! I appreciate it!!!

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author avatar Utah Jay
20th Apr 2015 (#)

I remember the fight...great article.

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