Don StradleyOct 25, 2021
Hagler-Hearns and Three Rounds for the Ages
Hamilcar Publications 2021
The battle between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns is remembered as one of the greatest fights of all time. But in the months before the two finally collided on April 15, 1985, there was a feeling in the air that boxing was in trouble. The biggest name in the business, Sugar Ray Leonard, was retired with no logical replacement in sight, while the American Medical Association was calling for a ban on the sport.
With Hagler–Hearns looking like boxing's last hurrah, promoter Bob Arum embarked on one the most audacious publicity campaigns in history, hyping the bout until the entire country was captivated. Arum's task was difficult. He'd spent years trying and failing to make Hagler a star, while Hearns was a gifted but inconsistent performer. Could Arum possibly get a memorable fight out of these two moody, unpredictable warriors?
The Hagler–Hearns fight is now part of history, but The War: Hagler-Hearns and Three Rounds for the Ages (Hamilcar Publications, 2021) by Don Stradley explores the many factors behind the event, and how it helped establish what many feel was boxing's greatest era. No book, not even George Kimball’s classic, Four Kings, has focused solely on this legendary fight involving two of those "Four Kings" that boxing fans have revered for their skills and willingness to take on challenges that many fighters do not take in today's boxing landscape.
With additional commentary from many who were there, Stradley shows the unlikely path taken by two fighters searching for greatness. They didn't care how many punches they endured, as long as it led to stardom. When the fight was over, however, each learned that fame inflicted its own kind of damage.
Paul Knepper covered the Knicks for Bleacher Report. His first book, The Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers That Almost Won It All was published in 2020. You can reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep.