Hagler vs. Hearns: "The War" Turns 25

It was 25 years ago Thursday.  

On a Saturday night in Vegas, April 15th 1985, one of the greatest boxing matches in history took place. A brutally violent, 3 round, 8-minute bout that featured devastating blows, a blistering pace, and a stunning knockout that seemed to come out of nowhere.   

I remember the spring of 1985 particularly well. I was 12.  I remember being in sixth grade at Whitman Elementary School in Brockton, Massachusetts. I remember the two most popular businesses between my house and the school - the Dairy Queen, which had just introduced its revolutionary ice cream treat, the Blizzard, and the Lil Peach store, where I would get my Mad magazines, baseball cards, and Nerds.  

I remember how warm that spring was - a lot of days in the 70s well before school was out. And I remember the Hagler - Hearns fight, even though I didn't see it on Pay Per View nor HBO. I actually watched a replay of it in July on Wide World of Sports on ABC.  But I do remember reading about the fight in the Boston Globe. And I remember how my hometown reacted, especially the staff and patrons at George's Cafe, where Hagler and my family frequently dined (albeit not together, but often on the same evening).

Boxing journalists and historians continue to call this match the greatest Middleweight title fight of all time, and arguably the great three rounds in professional boxing history.  

Hagler was a very intelligent boxer, but he did something he had never done before in this fight. He threw out his strategy and simply came out swinging. He was desperate to defend his title and earn respect in front of a large HBO / Pay-Per-View TV audience. Hearns was forced to retaliate with big shots, and his first massive punch to Hagler's head broke Hearns' right hand. Hagler and the analysts knew he had the fight in-hand when he was able to recover from that blow. His constant, vicious attacks nearly prevented Hearns from boxing in his preferred style.  It only took two more rounds to end the fight and secure his place in world boxing history. 

The first round alone lives in infamy. Both boxers stun each other with blows that would knock down lesser boxers.


Three straight right hands from Hagler finish the fight.

And this short HBO documentary from 2006 is a must see. It features the latest interviews with Hagler and Hearns, as well as stock footage of Hagler's legendary training in Provincetown, where he would run on the highway and in the dunes. His training regimen worked and is a model for many athletes to follow.