April 15th is approaching this coming week and most think of it as ‘Tax Day’, which is rightfully so. But, I think otherwise to April 15, 1985 – The Fight of the Year, The Round of the Year (round one), and The Fight of the Decade (eighties) – Marvin Hagler (60-2-2 / 50 by KO) vs. Thomas Hearns (40-1 / 34 by KO) for the ‘undisputed’ middleweight championship of the world at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.
Hagler, normally a slow starter, came out at the opening bell pinning Hearns to the ropes. Hearns threw a devastating right that stunned Hagler for a moment, as both began to trade power punches with knockout intentions. Hagler stunned Hearns with a hard left hand, becoming the aggressor, as the two continued to trade power punches. This vicious action continued, and suddenly Hagler developed a cut on his forehead, but that didn’t stop him as he pinned Hearns to the ropes and continued his assault, hurting Hearns as that blistering round ended.
At the beginning of round two, it appeared as though Hearns had no legs under him, as he tried to slow the pace by boxing and moving. Hagler switched to orthodox for a moment, but switched back to southpaw where he was successfully able to counter Hearns’ jab. The action in round two slowed down considerably from the non-stop action pace of round one.
In round three, Hearns tried to set the tempo by boxing. A minute into the round, the cut on Halger’s forehead inflicted in round one opened up, which caused Referee Richard Steele to halt the fight to have the ring doctor examine Hagler. The fight continued, and with the threat of the bout being stopped, Hagler became fueled like a tiger in the hunt and pressured Hearns at will. A tremendous overhand right to the head drove Hearns back to the ropes. Hearns backed away, then Hagler landed a right hook high on Hearns’ head. The punch staggered Hearns, who awkwardly stumbled backwards into the ropes as Hagler chased him, which was to be the beginning of the end for Hearns.
Hagler threw a hard right hand to the chin and Hearns went limp and fell forward, as Hagler threw two uppercuts. Hearns fell face first to the canvas and then went over on his back. He desperately staggered to his feet, but was in no condition to continue the fight.
It was called “the War” and lived up to its pre-fight billing – April 15, 1985 – three rounds that will live forever in boxing as arguably one of the greatest ever!