Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns. Four names even the most casual of boxing fans will instantly recognise.The Golden Era of boxing, where the best fought the best. It didn’t matter which 2 of the Four Kings met; you knew when they did it would be something special. The still hotly disputed Leonard vs Hagler, the demolition of Duran by Hearns in 2 rounds, Leonard behind on the score cards against Hearns, needing a KO to win and getting it in the 14thround, Duran – heroic against Hagler in a points defeat, the only challenger to go the distance against the champion and the first man to defeat the undefeatable Sugar Ray Leonard, only to be humiliated by the infamous ‘no mas’ in the rematch. And even in the twilight years of their careers, they were still huge box office. In 1989 in their rematch, Hearns and Leonard were guaranteed $11M and $13M respectively and although the fight was scored a draw, Leonard graciously acknowledges “Tommy, you beat me in this one”
But the real fight we all think about when we talk about the Fab four colliding, is The War. On April 15th 1985, the best battle between any combinations of the 4 was when Marvelous Marvin Hagler made his defence as undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World against Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns. Both men were guaranteed in excess of $5M for the fight, which happened to work out $625,000 a minute. And boy, did they earn every cent.
The build-up had generated huge media interest, especially as Hearns was regarded as one of the hardest punchers around, while Hagler was closing in on Carlos Monzon’s 14th title defence record, and both men had fairly recently beaten Roberto Duran; albeit in very different circumstances. Hagler, at the press conference wore a baseball cap with ‘WAR’ written on the front – as if predicting what was to come.
And so on Monday April 15th 1985, the two men squared up and the first bell sounded – and Mayhem was unleashed. Trading on equal terms, blow after blow landed on both men, Richard Steele the ref, a mere spectator in the ring. Hagler, within a minute looked as if he’d been ripped through a shredder, which added to the shock, excitement and wonderment of what was understatedly described as a ‘wild 1st round’. It was far beyond that. “Half a minute to go, how far can this go?” questioned Al Michaels.
As the bell sounded to signal the end of round 1, the two men locked in an almost frightening to watch stare down before retreating to their respective corners. Hagler had connected with 50 of 82 punches thrown, Hearns 56 of 83 and barely a jab thrown by either. The Ring Magazine considers Round 1 to be the Greatest Round in Boxing History. The 3 judges scored the fight 10-9 Hearns (twice) and 10-9 Hagler.