Marvelous Marvin Hagler may has left this world too soon when he passed away at the age of 66, but he left a great impact on the sport of boxing and with fans in general. Hagler had a career that saw him face some of the greatest fighters of any era and also have some of the biggest fights that fans still talk about to this very day.
In part 2 of this never before released interview article, I spoke the Marvin Hagler and on a variety of subjects about his career. Hagler spoke about finally winning the world title and not being able to celebrate it in the ring. Marvin also talked about how he thinks match ups with Carlos Monzon and Michael Spinks would have gone. Additionally, Marvelous Marvin Hagler talked about his life and the legacy he left with the boxing fans.
Jenna J: Marvin, I have had a lot of fun guests on this show and one of the most entertaining was a former opponent of yours, Sugar Ray Phillips. He was undefeated at the time you face him, what are your thoughts on that fight?
Marvin Hagler: Well I think there was another fighter I was supposed to fight. I think his name was Vinnie Curto, and he had pulled out of the fight. So then they put in this guy called Sugar Ray Phillips and I remember this guy ran even faster than Leonard. I mean he was quick. Then I finally got upset with him and I stopped him. But this guy was another runner. You know what I’m trying to say. So those type of things, you have to get a guy out of there kind of quick so that they really don’t embarrass you, you know what I mean? But he was a pretty good fighter. I think I broke his jaw, didn’t I? Did he mention that?
Jenna J: No, he didn’t mention that, he just mentioned that you kept hitting him with your head. He said “You kept using your bald head” to head butt him.
Marvin Hagler: It’s so funny, because that fight in the sense like in the years, you think about Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton where Ken Norton broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw. Then I remember my manager and trainer telling me, ‘You know Marvin, you broke the guy’s jaw. The guy is in the hospital and you got to go see if he’s okay’. I said, ‘For what? This guy is trying to kill me and you want me to go to the hospital and see this guy? No way! Hell no! Forget him!’ (laughs) It’s a dirty business. There’s no friends in that ring.
Jenna J: No, there certainly is not. Speaking of that, when you finally became a champion, it was from defeating Alan Minter in just 3 rounds and the British boxing fans in attendance that night were throwing things into the ring. Did you ever hold any ill will towards British fans in following that experience?
Marvin Hagler: Well I think that what they did was, they kind of banned boxing after when they had seen what happened to me on television. They were kind of leery and scared a little bit about having the fighters go over to that country, but the English people have been so apologetic to me. It only takes a handful of people to make the whole country look bad, and I forgive them for that now. I told them that I would never go back to that country and I lied, because I realized that it was only a handful of people that did that. I got what I wanted.
I went after the title. I took the title without any question. I stopped him in the three rounds and it was just a terrible way that I couldn’t enjoy it. I believe that I’m the only champion in the world that never received the belt inside the ring. I still get a little jealous about that sometimes when I see other champions holding up their belt after their match. But for my protection and everything, the bodyguards did a real good job on getting me out of there. I was just on my knees and just thanking God for really just giving me my gift that I wanted all my life. So I was happy about that.
Jenna J: Among the greatest Middleweight champions like Carlos Monzon and Harry Greb, I’m wondering where would you rank yourself in middleweight history?
Marvin Hagler: Well you know those are great champions and because I think I was a throwback from the old days, like a Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer and guys I would say like Jake Lamotta, it was something that I had to do to bring back the respect to the middleweight division. At the time coming up, when the heavyweight division was really notable by Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and all these tough guys in the light heavyweight division, you had Bob Foster. In the middleweights we were lacking something, so I was very honored in the sense that I finally started gaining my recognition as one of the top middleweights in the world. But for me still, I feel as though Carlos Monzon was a great champion. It took ten years and we would have loved to have fought him if we had the opportunity, but unfortunately that never happened. So just continuing and looking at guys like Emile Griffith and all these great middleweights. It’s always been the toughest division out there in the world of boxing I feel.
Jenna J: Speaking of Carlos Monzon, how do you think a fight between you and Monzon, when each of you at your best, would have played out?
Marvin Hagler: Well I believe behind my orthodox style I’d probably be fighting him on the inside to get inside his long reach. Just knowing that this guy had a powerful right hand, I mean Monzon had one of the best right hands in the business also besides Tommy Hearns. So I kind of learned a lot and I think I would have given him a lot of fits.
Jenna J: Since you retired, there have been other great Middleweight title runs. Bernard Hopkins recorded twenty title defenses. What did you think of him as a champion?
Marvin Hagler: Well I give a lot of respect with Bernard. I believe that he’s going to be a future Hall of Famer. I like the fact that he’s another one like myself that tried to keep the middleweight division alive, which he did. As far as the twenty defenses, I was glad in a sense that I retired, because I probably would have continued on fighting again. So I think that was the best thing that happened for me.
Jenna J: Hopkins fought late into his 40’s and has some success in his later career. What are your thoughts on fighters who fight into their 40’s?
Marvin Hagler: My opinion is the best thing is to get out of the game while you’re young so that you could basically have another life. Boxing was very good for me, but then knowing that after I got out of boxing it was the best move that I made. If you still continue, I believe that if you get hurt now at that stage and that age, I think it takes a long time for you to recover. No fighter wants to really be where can’t speak and think positively. I feel very fortunate. My thinking is great, my speech pattern is okay, and I’m able to move on.
So I believe that watching guys like Muhammad Ali and all these older fighters that were able to stay inside the ring so long, the physical aspect is deteriorating in time. Even I believe a guy like George Foreman at 42 years old I think that he won the title. I mean this inspires these young fighters to continue saying, ‘Well if George did it, I can do it too’ but I think that is a bad move for fighters because even though you think about it, the shot is not there. It’s only there in your mind. Then if your legs go, what do you got? The best way is to leave the game with respect and without making yourself look bad or regretting anything that you have done.
Jenna J: You definitely left the sport when you were on top of your game and you said that you were happy with your decision to stay retired. I’m wondering, though, was there ever any point where you did think about coming back after the Leonard fight and where you considered giving it another go and giving it another run?
Marvin Hagler: Well you know, in my opinion, when I started watching these younger fighters in my division coming up and then you start thinking I can take that guy and whatever like that. You got to smack yourself in the head, ‘Hello Marvin! You’re retired! Let them guys do their own thing’ and it’s great entertainment for you. But hopefully there’s somebody who will try to do the same thing I did and bring the dignity into my middleweight division. So that’s basically what I was looking at, but again, I’m glad that I’m out of there. I’m tied up in chains. No more ice. I think ice was my best friends. I’d sleep with it every night.
Jenna J: There were some rumors that a fight between you and Michael Spinks was talked about. I’m wondering, how serious were those talks and how do you think you would have done in a fight like that moving up in weight?
Marvin Hagler: Well basically there was nothing in the light heavyweights, anyway, at that time. Now the light heavyweight division looks a lot better than it did in many years since you had guys like Roy Jones who kind of controlled that light heavyweight division, because really, it was always a weak division. My division in the middleweight division was a very tough division when you talk about the guys that we’re talking about right now. The light heavyweights, there wasn’t much. As far as Michael Spinks was concerned, we should have fought him in the amateurs back in the AAU years ago. So I don’t feel as though that at that time, that I was putting on fifteen pounds like these guys are doing today. If it was anything that was going to happen, I would have had him come down to my weight which would be 160. So that’s what happened in that area.
Jenna J: Marvin, moving away from your fights, I wanted to get your thoughts on the super fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. Looking from the outside in, what were your thoughts on that match?
Marvin Hagler: Well you know, like anything else, all of these guys were like vultures. They were all sitting on the fence like Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, Ray Leonard, and they were always like praying that somebody would knock me off so they’d never have to fight that guy. But eventually, I kept moving forward and putting the pressure on them and the money started getting bigger so I think they had to come out. It was only a matter of time. But with the Thomas Hearns and the Leonard fight, I watched that fight and it was a great fight. I take nothing away, but then I see that Tommy got shook up there in the thirteenth round or whatever. Still, what they called Leonard at that time was ‘The Pretty Boy’ and the ‘Olympic Champion’ and all that stuff so a lot of things went in his favor. But it was a good fight. I don’t take nothing away from that, but I realized what kind of job I had that was laying in front of me.
Jenna J: Marvin, If you did not become a boxer what do you think you would have done with your life?
Marvin Hagler: Oh, it’s like mostly everybody else. You’re either going to be in crime or you’re going to be in jail somewhere doing something negative and nothing positive, you know what I mean. I think boxing was the best thing that ever happened to me to give me an outlook on life and also it was my best teacher. I mean it educated me in so many ways in being able to help other people in the world today by my name and what I’ve done. Like my website, I got my website going where I’m talking with a lot of people over the air. I’m doing a lot of charity work which is for my Marvelous Marvin Hagler Scholarship Fund in Brockton. I’m helping those kids, about 2,000 kids that we’re able to send to school to college. This is something that I’m able to do which is great.
Jenna J: In closing. You have so many fans around the world and people that admire what you accomplished in your career. Anything you want to say to all the boxing fans out there?
Marvin Hagler: Well it’s great to talk with the people about the boxing. It’s not like some people you want to shut yourself off or whatever. No. I enjoy that the people who really know anything about boxing, they catch my ear. Some people talk a bunch of junk sometimes, too, who don’t know anything about boxing. They just have seen it. A fortunate thing that happens to me right now is when I got young kids who come up to me and say, ‘Me and my father, my father sat me down to watch your fights and I think you’re one of the greatest’. Then when I’m doing all this fan mail, which I have to do tonight, too, to autograph all these things and whatever and send them out to all these people. They all speak very respectfully so that’s why I don’t mind. Some of these things bring you back, too. So I enjoy it. Again it gives me an opportunity to stay in touch with my fans.