Boxing great Marvelous Marvin Hagler, former undisputed middleweight world champion and one of the sport’s all time greats, has died aged 66.
- Marvelous Marvin Hagler fought in 67 professional fights, winning 62, losing 3 and drawing twice
- Hagler reigned as undisputed middleweight champion for almost seven years, one of the longest title reigns of all time
- Hagler took on all of the era’s great fighters, including Thomas Hearns in the fight that would become known as “The War” such was its butality
“I am sorry to make a very sad announcement,” Kay Hagler wrote on Facebook.
“Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvellous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire.
“Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Hagler is one of the greatest boxers of all time, a two-time The Ring fighter of the year and a member of the boxing hall of fame.
Hagler, who legally changed his name to “Marvelous” in 1982 after commentators refused to use it as a nickname, dominated the middleweight scene for the majority of the 1980s, ending his career with a record of 62 wins, three defeats and two draws from his 67 professional fights.
He was only knocked down once in his entire 67-fight professional career, but recorded 52 knockout victories of his own.
One of the so-called “Four Kings” of boxing, Hagler helped capture the attention of the sporting world during boxing’s last golden era, alongside Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Durán.
Hagler is still acknowledged as one of the greatest pound-for-pound champions of all time.
He reigned as undisputed middleweight champion between 1980 and 1987 — the second longest of any middleweight in the 21st century.
However, he had to work hard for his title shot, fighting 50 times professionally before getting his first, unsuccessful shot at a world title, a controversial split decision draw against Vito Antuofermo in 1979.
That setback fuelled Hagler’s sense of injustice, providing the motivation that helped him dominate the division for the rest of his career.
Hagler won the WBC and WBA middleweight titles from British boxer Alan Minter in an intensely volatile atmosphere at Wembley Arena in 1980.
Hagler stopped Minter on cuts in the third round, but had to be escorted from the ring by police as angry supporters rained bottles and cups down on the ring.
From that point on though, Hagler was unstoppable at middleweight, defending his title 12 times, with 10 of the wins coming by knockout.
He was taken the full 15 rounds by Panamanian junior middleweight star Durán in 1983, coming back strongly in the final two rounds to be awarded a unanimous decision and display the resilience that would become an integral part of his legacy.
He then fought fellow great Hearns, the junior middleweight champion, at Caesars Palace in 1985 in one of the greatest fights of all time.
The fight was eventually referred to as “The War”, three rounds of unrelenting pace and violence that has rarely, if ever, been matched in a ring since.
Featuring what many pundits rate as the greatest single round of boxing of all time, both fighters traded blows as the crowd remained on their feet for the entire eight minutes that the fight lasted.
The referee stopped the fight after Hearns was dropped by a flurry of punches.
Hagler finally surrendered his title to then-two-weight world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, who came out of retirement to record a controversial split decision victory in Las Vegas in 1987.
Hagler requested a rematch but, after 14 months of waiting, retired from the sport in 1988 and moved to Italy, where he featured in films and worked as a commentator.
Stars of boxing paid tribute to Hagler on social media, with his former promotor Bob Arum saying Hagler “was among the greatest athletes that Top Rank ever promoted”.
“He was a man of honour and a man of his word, and he performed in the ring with unparalleled determination.
“He was a true athlete and a true man. I will miss him greatly.”
Legendary announcer Michael Buffer said he was “crushed” by the news, hailing Hagler as “the best” pound-for-pound boxer in his prime.
Former six-weight world champion Oscar Del La Hoya also paid tribute to “one of the greatest to ever step in the ring”.