BY M. SWIFT
On this day in 1985, Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns challenged the Undisputed Middleweight Champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.
The Build Up
Hagler became Undisputed Champion in September 1980, and along the way collected the IBF Middleweight championship in May, 1983. By the time of his match with Tommy Hearns, he had defended his undisputed crown ten times. Hearns held the WBC, The Ring, and lineal light middleweight championships heading into the fight, but the titles weren’t on the line in the bout.
Tommy Hearns was coming in as the top ranked Middleweight contender with a record of 40-1 and 34 knockouts. His reputation was on his incredible punching power and looked like a strong challenge to the champion. Meanwhile, Marvin Hagler 60-2-2 with 50 knockouts to his name.
The road to winning the Middleweight championships saw Hagler chase the belts throughout most of the late 1970s and remaining undefeated for most of his run. There was a draw decision in his first shot at the titles in November 1979. He would take the titles a little under a year later.
Caesar’s Palace was the battleground for this fight. What was interesting in the first round was Hagler’s approach out the gate. He usually built up before going all out, but instead came out of the corner fighting. The two threw massive punches at each other—just in the first round.
On several occasions, the two ended up temporarily stunned but had the awareness to stay in the fight. In just the first match, it got bowling shoe ugly as Hagler got a cut on his forehead. In the studio, Hagler said he was impressed by Hearns’ punching power.
The second round had more strategy with Tommy Hearns coming out on weak legs. While Hit Man managed to hang in there, Hagler took the round.
The third and final round saw Hagler get popped again and bleed profusely. He was checked by a ringside physician and given the okay to continue.
Now that Hearns had another chance at victory if he could target the cut, Hagler became even more aggressive in his approach, hoping to end the fight early. The approach worked as he rocked Hearns with heavy blows double tapping him with uppercuts, resulting in Hit Man crashing to the mat.
While Hearns got up at 9.95, he was unable to continue to fight and “The War” ended in a referee stoppage.
The fight was awarded The Ring’s fight of the year for 1985. You can check out “8 Minutes of Mayhem” here.
M. Swift primarily writes on moments and important figures in Black history for Your Black World. He also writes heavily on wrestling, comics, gaming, and Black sci-fi and fantasy.