Boxing's Fab Four Part Five: Hagler Vs Duran

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

10th November 1983, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Undisputed Middleweight Title

Marvelous Marvin Hagler Vs Roberto Duran

Marvin Hagler won seventeen contests in a row, before picking up his first blemish in November 1974; a draw against the 1972 Olympic champion, Sugar Ray Seales, who Hagler outpointed to inflict the first defeat on his record three months previously.

In January 1976 Hagler travelled to the tough city of Philadelphia and suffered his first defeat to Bobby 'Boogaloo' Watts. The loss was controversial and many deemed Hagler to have been robbed. Two months later he was back in Philadelphia, losing on points again to another local fighter Willie 'The Worm' Monroe. This time there was no robbery and Hagler's credentials as a serious contender took a massive dent.

Hagler kept winning and beat Monroe twice on stoppage defeats. His third fight with Seales ended by a first round TKO and many people sat up and took notice of the man from Boston as he challenged the Italian-American Vito Antuofermo for the undisputed middleweight title on 30th November 1979.

With the challenger boxing superbly in the first half of the fight, the ragged New Yorker got his brawling style to work in the second part of the contest to retain his belts with a controversial draw. Hagler had to play the waiting game again, but in the process gained revenge over Bobby Watts with a second round TKO victory.

Hagler got his second crack at the world title in Wembley Arena, London, against local man Alan Minter on 27th September 1980. The challenger made no mistake this time around and cut the champion to ribbons as he finally became world champion after seven years as a pro.

Ugly scenes marred his victory as drunken and racist scenes of yob-ism engulfed the arena that put British boxing to shame. Hagler had to be escorted out of the ring by police as beer bottles and other debris were hurled into the ring. The new champion stated that he would never fight in London again.

Before facing off against Roberto Duran, Hagler was on an amazing world championship run of eight stoppage wins in a row, including a fourth round retirement, on cuts, against ex-champ Vito Antuofermo.

Since losing his WBC welterweight crown to 'Sugar' Ray Leonard in the infamous 'No Mas' bout, Duran campaigned as a light-middleweight and challenged Wilfred Benitez for the WBC light-middleweight championship. The champion retained his crown with a fifteen round unanimous decision.

Eight months later Duran returned to action and dropped a shock ten round decision to Kirkland Laing and it looked like his career at the highest level was over, but a good win over former WBA welterweight champion Pipino Cuevas earned him a shot at WBA light-middleweight champion Davey Moore.

Moore was only 12-0 and against Duran was making his fourth defence. The challenger went on the attack from the get-go and became a three weight world champion with an eighth round stoppage. The victory set up the clash with Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

The first round was a mere feeling each other out process. Hagler would work behind his right lead whilst the challenger attacked the body. There was nothing between them as the gong of the bell echoed around the arena.

Hagler continued to work behind his southpaw jab and surprisingly did the better work on the inside, where Duran was expected to be more dominant. Every time the challenger had any success it was cheered appreciatively by the crowd.

The unexpected chess match continued in the third. The challenger's right hand was coming up short, but the crowd were cheering as if it landed. Hagler stayed on the outside, giving Duran's power the upmost respect. Towards the end of the round both men had successes with their own flurries.

Hagler was told there was no need to knockout Duran during the minute break, "That's not the name of the game," said Goody Petronelli. Both men met each other in the ring's centre and traded shots, then Hagler heeded the advice of his corner and got back to his boxing.

Duran was forced to feint, trying to find openings. He did land a right hand right on the button, but the champion wasn't fazed. The challenger definitely had the crowd on his side as they continued to loudly chant his name.

The champion switched between southpaw and orthodox a lot in the fifth round for the first time in the contest. His defensive boxing offered an elusive target for the Panamanian. They traded body blows and Duran found Hagler's chin with a right just before the bell, but it had no effect on him, as Hagler's superior boxing won him the round.

The fight began to hot up in the sixth. A left from Hagler made Duran lose his footing, he wasn't hurt and he shook his head at the champion to express he wasn't. The smaller man then bulled forward to try and impose his will on the natural middleweight.

Hagler, constantly switching, seemed to shift through the gears and stood his ground and backed Duran up with some meaty shots, landing lefts and rights as he pleased. It looked like the natural power of the champion would make the man from Panama wilt, but Duran was made of strong stuff as he made it to the bell.

The champion couldn't wait for round seven to start. He was on his feet, tapping his gloves, telling Duran to get up, as he was still on his stool, gaining valuable seconds of rest. The bell dinged and Hagler landed a right from the orthodox stance, then reverted back to southpaw.