Boxing Loses a Giant
Marvin Hagler was one of Boxings most famous names, the one they called the Marvellous One died aged 66 five days ago on the 13th March. Hagler was one of the four kings in the 1980’s – a group of iconic boxers who all fought each other in a golden period of boxing that carried the sport after the end of the Muhammad Ali era, the other names of course being the equally great Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.
There is a lot you could say about Hagler, for me as someone who born in the late 1970’s, Hagler represents many of my earliest memories of boxing as just as I was beginning to watch boxing as a young child, Marvin Hagler was taking part in two of the biggest fights of all time, the incredible ‘War’ with Thomas Hearns and the controversial super fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. Hagler wasn’t just one of the best middleweight boxers of all time – some would he was the best middleweight ever, but he was also one of the best ever southpaws, was considered the no.1 fighter in the world in the 1980’s and add some finesse and high ring IQ as well being one of the real warriors of the ring.
The story of Marvin Hagler is well documented. When former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier encountered Marvin Hagler, he gave him a stark warning, you’ve got three strikes against you already, you’re good, you’re southpaw and you’re black. Hagler didn’t have the olympic gold medal behind him such as a Sugar Ray Leonard, he didn’t have the charm in front of the camera – he often carried a scowl and he had to work his way up from the bottom, fighting through adversity, fighting through dodgy decisions – Hagler wanted to prove he was the best and to do that he went to Philadelphia, one of the world’s greatest boxing cities and took on all of the most avoided fighters to build up his career.
Hagler was such a brutal and intimidating boxer that many overlook just how smart a fighter he was, he could switch between southpaw and orthodox and he could box with you or he could turn it up a notch and in his words, destroy and destruct.
In this video below I take a look at something I incorporate into my own teaching for my club members, something I call the head, hand and foot drill. Hagler would move his head before the punch and then move his feet after the punch, making it very difficult for his opponent to pin him down or to figure out when and how the next attack was coming. This is something George Benton touched upon – Benton is someone I have studied and written about extensively and he himself like Hagler, was a great middleweight. After his pro career Benton went on to become a hall of fame trainer and he once said ‘Finesse is the language a fighter speaks before and after he throws a shot.’
What Hagler did was a perfect example of this, the head, hand and foot movements are also great against opponents looking to stalk you and pressure you as the constant feinting gives them something to think about and they cannot just charge forwards, take a look at the video below to see Marvin Hagler putting this into action.