By: Sean Crose
First things first – there was no one like Marvelous Marvin Hagler, and there never will be. Hagler, the undisputed middleweight champion of the world from 1980-1987, was unlike any fighter in his own time, much less today. Still, there is a fine line between the mindset of the popular Hagler and those of many of today’s top names. For starters, Hagler wanted to be a middleweight. That’s it. He wasn’t a division jumper. It just wasn’t his thing. Some today may see that as a weakness, but those who know understand Hagler didn’t have to go anywhere. Here was a man who faced Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, John Mugabi and Ray Leonard in less than four years. It’s hard to imagine anyone facing that kind of competition today…with the exception of Canelo Alvarez.
To be sure, Alvarez, who has faced the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Gennady Golovin (twice), Erislandy Lara, and then light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev, has shown Four Kings’ level gusto. Mayweather, and Golovkin may not be on par with Duran, Leonard, and Hearns, but they’re frankly at least pretty close. By taking on the top competition in his own era, Canelo has made it clear he’s perpetually ready for war, just as Hagler was. Lighter weight fighters such as Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai are certainly as game as Hagler, but sadly, they don’t bring in the glaring spotlights that those in the bigger weight divisions do.
As for the rest of boxing – with the obvious exception of Manny Pacquiao, who is wrapping up his career – no popular boxer is even near Hagler in terms of showing a warrior mentality. To make matters even more glaring, no one seems to much want to be. To take a look at Hagler’s resume is simply to take a look back in time. After finally winning the middleweight crown, Hagler’s first three defenses were against number one contender at the time Fulgencio Obelmejias, former middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo, who had previously fought Hagler to a draw, and Mustafa Hamsho, also the number one contender at the time.
Today all of those fights might have been pay per view main events, earning Hagler tons of money. Yet, after defeating Hamsho, Hagler had to wait another two years before getting a legitimate major bout. And that was against all time great Duran. After that, the Brockton, Massachusetts native battled the rugged Juan Roldan, Hamsho again, Hearns, Mugabi, and Leonard. That would be like Errol Spence Jr facing Terence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, and Danny Garcia, all in less than four year’s time. That sort of thing simply doesn’t happen in today’s fight world, at least in part because boxers don’t have to put themselves through so many dangerous fights in order to earn top money these days.
That’s understandable…but so is the fact that few, if any, contemporary fighters will some day be looked back on the way Hagler is.