Hopkins and Hagler Would Make for Solid Dance Partners at Middleweight

January 3, 2024
6 months

Marvin Hagler wasn’t afraid to trade power punches. During a long run as middleweight champion, he had the skill to send nearly anyone to the canvas. Most famous for a wild fight he had with Thomas Hearns, Hagler was known as a durable champion who had a strong chin and an entertaining style.

Bernard Hopkins spent most of his career at middleweight but would bump up to light heavyweight during the later portion of his career. What may have been most remarkable about Hopkins was his willingness and ability to take world championship fights into his early 50s. Pairing the two men up would have made for entertaining theater. Both are still highly regarded middleweights, and both left a legacy behind in the boxing community, according to world boxing latest news.

Hagler Started With a Streetfight

Hagler, a New Jersey native, got into boxing during his teenage years after being beaten up in a street fight in the late 1960s. After the incident in which Hagler had his jacket stolen off his back, he resolved to become a fighter. He went to a gym to train and soon found success as an amateur.

Hagler won the 1973 Boston U.S. National Champions at middleweight. Shortly after winning the U.S. championships, Hagler turned professional. He opened his career with a 25-0-1 stretch that included a decision victory over Dornell Wigfall, who was the man who beat him in the street fight. Hagler’s first attempt at winning a world title didn’t come until 1979 when he was involved in a split draw with Vito Antuofermo.

Championship Success, Big Rivalries

After 54 career professional fights, Hagler finally brought home glory on the world stage on Sept. 27, 1980, at Wembley Arena in London. Hagler beat Alan Minter via third-round TKO to kick off a long run with the WBA, WBC, and The Ring middleweight titles. He would go on to defend those titles 12 times in a row.

The most famous of his title defenses came in April 1985, when he fought Hearns at Caesars Palace. Hagler demonstrated his patented toughness in this bout. During Hagler’s professional boxing career, he has only been knocked down once. Hearns threw everything at him to try and get the fight stopped in the first round.

Both men traded power punches and, amazingly, were still left standing at the end of the first round. It was an unsustainable pace, but both men left an impression with the first round. Many people recognize it as one of the greatest rounds in boxing history.

Hagler eventually won the fight with a vicious third-round knockout that saw him land two uppercuts as Hearns fell face-first onto the canvas. Hagler would lose his title in a controversial split decision to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987. He hoped for a rematch, but Leonard retired, and Hagler followed suit, wrapping up his career with a 62-3 record.

Prison Changes Hopkins

Boxing updates tonight show Hopkins was a troubled youth. He would end up being sent to prison at 18 after committing nine felonies. Unlike many top boxers who come up through the amateur ranks, Hopkins developed his boxing skills while in Graterford Prison.

During Hopkins’ amateur career, he compiled a 95-4 record. When he was released from prison, Hopkins immediately turned professional and lost his debut as a light heavyweight. Hopkins decided to take time off and returned 16 months later at middleweight.

Upon Hopkins’ return, he ran off 22 straight wins before losing to Roy Jones Jr. in a challenge for the IBF middleweight title. It was just a bump in the road for Hopkins, who would end up finally finding his place on the world stage two years later.

Hopkins Becomes One of Most Decorated Middleweights

Hopkins grabbed the vacant IBF middleweight title for the first time by beating Segundo Mercado by TKO in April 1995. He would continue to defend that championship over the next decade. In 2004, Hopkins would become the first middleweight to unify all four championships when he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya in the ninth round to win the WBO middleweight title to go along with the WBA, WBC, IBF and The Ring middleweight titles.

Hopkins would make one successful defense of all four belts when he beat Howard Eastman in a unanimous decision. However, Hopkins, now 40, would have a short time on top of the world. In his attempt to regain the belts, Hopkins lost a split decision to Jermain Taylor in July 2005.

The two men would rematch in December, but he would lose that fight via a unanimous decision. Instead of retiring, Hopkins decided to return to his boxing roots at light heavyweight.

He would win several world championships at light heavyweight over the next decade. After 65 professional fights, Hopkins’ career came to an end with an eight-round TKO loss to Joe Smith Jr. in December 2016 at the age of 51. Hopkins ended his career with a 55-8 record, finishing with two draws and two no contests.

Hopkins and Hagler Would Have Been A Fun Bout

Both Hagler and Hopkins had a number of high-profile victories over their respective careers. Hagler seemed more content with his career and retired much earlier than Hopkins. Hagler wasn’t super involved with boxing between retirement and his death in 2021, while Hopkins has stayed in the game and works training young fighters.

Hopkins’ time in prison made him a man with a strong resolve and a desire to stay on top. Hagler went to Italy after his career was over and became an action movie star. This fight would be a close one, but Hagler would get the nod. Hagler was hard to shake and proved during his battle with Hearns he was capable of trading power punches with any fighter.

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