Boxing legend ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler dies aged 66

Boxing legend ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler dies aged 66

Hagler defended the undisputed world middleweight crown 12 times [Anthony Kwan/Getty]
Hagler defended the undisputed world middleweight crown 12 times [Anthony Kwan/Getty]

American boxing legend Marvin Hagler, the undisputed world middleweight champion from 1980 to 1987, has died, his wife said. He was 66.

In a posting on the famed fighter’s Facebook page, Kay G Hagler said her husband passed away on Saturday at the family home in Bartlett, New Hampshire.

“I am sorry to make a very sad announcement. Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvellous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire,” she wrote. “Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

“Marvellous” Marvin Hagler fought from 1973 to 1987 and delivered some epic bouts in a golden era of the sport, finishing with a record of 62-3 with two drawn and 52 knockouts.

The southpaw’s most heralded triumph came in a 1985 matchup at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas against Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, which lasted just over eight minutes but was regarded as a classic that became known simply as “The War”.

After a first round filled with power punches in which Hearns suffered a broken right hand, Hagler suffered a cut to the head early in the second.

A ringside doctor examined Hagler in the third round and the fight went on. Hagler wobbled Hearns with a powerhouse right and sent him to the canvas moments later, Hearns rising only to collapse into referee Richard Steele’s arms.

Hagler won the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association middleweight titles in 1980, stopping Britain’s Alan Minter in the third round at London’s Wembley Arena, and added the International Boxing Federation’s inaugural title in 1983.

Marvin Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993 [Jumana El-Heloueh/Reuters]

Hagler defended the undisputed crown 12 times, including a 15-round unanimous decision victory over Panama’s Roberto Duran in 1983 and his final triumph, an 11th-round knockout of unbeaten Ugandan John Mugabi in 1986.

“Marvelous Marvin Hagler was among the greatest athletes that Top Rank ever promoted,” legendary US promoter Bob Arum said. “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,” Arum added of Hagler, a member of the middleweight division’s “Four Kings” of the 1980s along with Hearns, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Duran.

Former fighter and legendary trainer Freddie Roach said Hagler visited Roach’s hometown to watch one of his fights.

“Marvin Hagler came to my fight in Boston,” Roach wrote on his social media account. “I appreciated what he said to me after my fight.

“Rest In Peace, my friend. Condolences to the Hagler family. Thank you Marvellous Marvin Hagler for all you gave to boxing.”

Over a decade from 1976 to 1986, Hagler went unbeaten, with 36 wins and a draw.

Named Fighter of the Year in 1983 and 1985 by the Boxing Writers Association of America, he was named Fighter of the Decade in the 1980s by Boxing Illustrated.

He carried a 16-fight win streak into what proved to be his final fight, a showdown with Leonard in 1987 at age 32.

Leonard, coming off three years of retirement at age 30, captured a controversial 12-round split decision and launched his return to the ring as Hagler – angered by the scoring – bid farewell.

After stepping out of the ring, Hagler pursued acting in Italy and a career as a boxing commentator. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.