(transcribed by Michael Readman) Boxing legend and former undisputed Middleweight champion of the world Marvelous Marvin Hagler recently made a return appearance to “On The Ropes” to discuss his boxing career and also give his thoughts on the current landscape of the sport. Marvin talked about what led him to get into boxing and what his expectations were from the beginning. Hagler also discussed some of the greatest moments in his career, from winning the title in hostile territory, learning from the great Roberto Duran, and legendary encounter with the “hitman” Thomas Hearns. In addition Marvin spoke on the how boxing compares to when he fought in the ring, and gave his views on judging in the sport. Here is what Marvin Hagler had to say in part 1 of this 3 part interview.
Jenna J: I am joined by a very special returning guest, he’s now making his third appearance to “On The Ropes” boxing radio. I am joined by one of the greatest fighters in boxing history, a Hall of Fame boxer, once again I am joined by The Marvelous one, Marvin Hagler. How’s everything going today Marvin?
Marvin Hagler: Hey, how you doing Jen? It’s a pleasure being back “On The Ropes” again.
Jenna J: It’s a pleasure to have you on and I’m doing great. It’s always good to talk to not only a legend of the sport but also a fellow guy that came from Massachusetts, as I myself am from Massachusetts.
Marvin Hagler: Oh I didn’t know that. We’re doing good I guess, we won the world series, that sounds good.
Jenna J: Lets talk a little about that, you’re a guy who grew up in Massachusetts, and made your professional debut there. I don’t wanna say how many years ago it was because you once accused me of saying I made you feel old, so I’ll say in 1973 you made your debut. Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up in this area and ultimately getting into boxing?
Marvin Hagler: Well you know it’s like anything else I think, just a way to get out of the ghetto, getting out of poverty a little bit, finding new things that are interesting which I fell in love with, which is boxing. I was able to find some good people that was helping me along with my career being an amateur as you know, winning the 52 fights I had, 50 by knockout.
Then all of the sudden I decided to turn pro back in 1973. That was where it all started for me and my march for the world championship. We finally got that dream to come true and everything is okay.
Jenna J: Marvin, when you did debut as a pro fighter, what were your expectations? What did you expect to accomplish in your career?
Marvin Hagler: I think it was already set inside my mind of becoming a world middleweight champion.
Jenna J: So you already had that at an early age, that you would become middleweight champion, you had no doubt?
Marvin Hagler: No doubt. I knew it was hard work because during my amateur career, like I said with the 50 knockouts in the 52 fights, I knew that I had great ability. I only missed the Olympics by six months and I decided to turn professional because that’s where the money was, I couldn’t really use the trophy’s anymore to get what I wanted or to feed the family or anything like that, so I decided to turn pro.
Jenna J: Alright, well it took you 49 fights to get your world title shot, you were a very frustrated man to wait that long and it ended up being a draw which added to the frustrations. Can you tell me what that feeling was like, the journey to get to that title shot and then ultimately having it called a draw when most people thought you should have won?
Marvin Hagler: Exactly, I feel as though that was the best thing that could have happened in a sense. In a way it made me more hungry, more angry, made me more determined. It made me want to prove something to the world. I wouldn’t say I was a great fighter but I was the best fighter that was out there and I deserved a shot at the title, which they never gave me.
They always kept me as a below rank contender which they were giving me like the uncrowned champion, I didn’t want that, I wanted the real crown, I wanted to be the middleweight champion of the world.
Jenna J: Marvin, most people feel you should have won the fight with Vito Antuofermo, it was still a close fight. What do you remember most from the match, and what do you think you learned from not getting the decision in that fight?
Marvin Hagler: I remember how angry I was when I fought Antuofermo, at least I gave Antuofermo credit, he did give me the fight which I think I deserved. I felt as though that fight when it became a draw, I thought that I won that fight, I felt as though I realized something, that if you leave a champion standing, the title’s gonna go back to the champion.
I learned a lot from that fight, I learned not to keep them standing, and what I had to do was to try to knockout everybody that I could because if you don’t beat the champion successfully or decisively rather, they wont give you the belt.
Jenna J: Marvin, something interesting you bring up today because now boxing is crowded with controversy. You almost see it every weekend that there is a fight that should have gone one way and you know the champion’s out there fighting his heart out and it goes the other guy’s way. Do you think that’s kind of lost in today’s boxing, that need and desire to end things in your own hands, are people are relying on the judges too much?
Marvin Hagler: Exactly, well I learned that myself the hard way. You can’t leave it in the hands of the judges, and I told you before, these here were my judges, my fists, they were my judges and my rulers right there. I knew that I couldn’t leave the guy standing because that would push me back a little more, so the best way to keep my anger inside me was to keep knocking these guys out until I get what I want.
I was still never satisfied, and still today I guess I still got a little bit of that anger, but I’m still not satisfied. I believe that I fought every fighter out there that was a threat to me, I gave them also an opportunity to dethrone me, but fighters today, I think it’s much easier for them because I see so many champions that are just, what are they doing? They are just giving their belts away, I mean it wasn’t that easy for me, so when you get that belt, the only way they were gonna get it from me is they had to kill me. Or they could steal it! (laughs)
Jenna J: Marvin, you did get another chance at the middleweight crown, this time you didn’t leave anything in the hands of the judges, you went over to the UK and you faced Alan Minter in hostile territories and you came away with the title. Could you let the fans know about the experience you had over there?
Marvin Hagler: Yes, well it was 33 years ago with Alan Minter which makes me feel very happy. I do a lot of dinner shows and things like that now also in London. You know, even though that the people were very rude at that moment, I realized that it was only a handful of people that made the whole country look bad, but I went in there and I took what I wanted, which I believed what was mine. That’s the way it went, and I feel as though I’m still champion today, I really don’t feel any different and I’m just glad to be on your show.
Jenna J: Marvin, of all your title wins only one went the distance, that one fight was with a legend himself, Roberto Duran. It’s actually now marking 33 years ago that you had that tough, tough battle. Judges had you down going into the thirteenth round. Can you tell me about that fight and you having to battle back to take it?
Marvin Hagler: Oh yeah, well I think I got cut in the eleventh round in that fight, but I enjoyed that fight. It’s the only fight I really enjoyed, fighting a guy like Robero Duran, three time world champion. It was like going to school, inside I would teach him something and then he would teach me something. We were back and forward trading different styles and techniques.
I remember getting caught early in the first few rounds with a quick right hand that he was landing on me, and I remember asking my corner I said, “Hey how come I’m getting hit with that shot? He hit me with the right hand” and he said, “It’s because he’s timing your right jab all the time.” So what I decided to do was switch over because that was one of my gifts that I had that God had gave me, I was able to trade on both sides, I was very ambidextrous.
In a sense what I did was every time that I would move to the opposite side, I would hit Roberto with a body shot and you could hear him going “UHHHH” (laughs.) So I knew that was the right thing to do for him, I just enjoyed that fight. I gave Roberto Duran a lot of credit because he was a fighter that shows up, he was willing to try to take away my title. I still think I would have needed thirty more seconds and I do think I would have stopped Roberto Duran, but Duran showed me a lot of courage and it was a hell of a fight.
Jenna J: Marvin, I can’t have you on the show again without asking about a certain fight, it’s one that boxing fans, I swear it’s the one that I hear that they replay the most, it was a short fight, it was a battle, it was a war, your fight with Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns. Can you tell us about it?
Marvin Hagler: Yeah, well Tommy, that was the highlight of my career. Tommy, I knew that he was coming to fight, I heard him saying that one thing he was gonna do was knock my bald head off, you know, so I said, “Oh well that means that he’s gonna show up and it also means that I’m gonna get paid.”(laughs)
So it all worked out for the best for me because finally I got a chance to talk with the announcer there after the fight and I told them now because this guy said I wasn’t a great fighter and I said, “Now, does this prove to you that I am a great fighter?” He had no words to say, but he had to give it to me finally, after I waited all these years and he finally said, “You are a great fighter Marvelous” and I said “Thank you, thank you.” (laughs)
Jenna J: Marvin, after having that type of fight, was there ever talk of you and Tommy Hearns having a rematch?
Marvin Hagler: Yeah, I think Tommy wanted that fight again, but then I said to Tommy, “Why do you want this fight again, because you can’t remember the first time?” (laughs) I’m only joking. But, you know, I was going on, moving on and I think the next one was another tough fight, I think that was John Mugabi, which wasn’t an easy fight either. He never gave me any easy fights in my career, always a number one contender, always another person who was a threat to taking my title, and I proved to the world that I was a true champion.
Stay tuned to www.ontheropesboxing.com for parts 2 and 3 of my interview with Marvin Hagler