Will There Ever Be Another Opening Round Quite Like Hagler - Hearns?

12.10.06 - By James Slater: Whenever I sit and watch a boxing match, in the immediate moments before the first bell, I often wonder to myself if an opening round is about to be witnessed comparable to the awesome one Marvellous Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns gave us back in 1985. So far, this has not been the case. Really, the sheer mayhem that was the result of two truly great fighters throwing caution to the winds as they leapt at one another instantly is a rare thing so early in a big fight. With so much at stake when one or more world titles are on the line, boxers usually take a couple of minutes - at the very least- to feel their opponent out. The fact that Marvin and Tommy both had the same mindset of, “the hell with it, let’s fight!”, is really quite incredible.

To have taken such a big, not to mention mind-bogglingly exciting, gamble, required incredible guts and self belief. It could so easily have been a risk that failed for the winner, in Hagler. As Hearns, the heroic loser, found out.

This is why we may never see the likes of their first round ever again. It is much safer to box your way into a fight cautiously, as apposed to hurling yourself at your rival. And whatever the varying reasons Marvin and Tommy may have had for adopting their chosen tactics (both men have since made clear in interviews over the years that they planned an early assault all along) they both will have been only too aware of the massive danger involved when doing so. So, will we ever see an opening three minutes to match the superb one from April of 1985?

There have been some great single rounds in boxing since Hagler-Hearns, some perhaps even matching its greatness. But none of them have been first rounds. And that’s the point. Perhaps the reason we all so revere the most famous 180 seconds in boxing history so much is because they occurred right at the sound of the initial bell. Without a chance to brace oneself for the
astonishing and breathtaking violence to come, the glorious warfare had an impact upon the senses that was far greater than it would have been had it occurred in, say, round four.

With one’s mind ready and alert, and indeed anticipating bedlam, the sight of it happening is far less bewildering. This is why I believe the famous round from twenty-one years ago is so vividly a recalled one. In no way do I intend to diminish the brilliance of those pulse quickening exchanges, but there have been rounds just as good, or maybe even better, since. Just not at the very start of a bout.

So the answer to this article’s title is probably a no. Unless two world class fighters, with the same uncommon mindset as the one Hagler and Hearns had when they fought, meet in ring centre. It is just so rare for two championship level boxers to take such a dangerous risk though. The minuses of such tactics far outweigh the plusses. Hence Hagler vs. Hearns’ unique place in modern day history.

What other rounds from fights since then match it though? The mesmerising brutality of round number ten in the first meeting between Diego Corrales - Jose Luis Castillo certainly does. As does the back and forth slugging tenth round of Riddick Bowe - Evander Holyfield 1. How about The twelfth and final round of Julio Cesar Chavez - Meldrick Taylor from 1990? Certainly the unbelievable ending to it has to rank evenly with Hagler - Hearns round one in the drama stakes. How could anyone forget round number five from the first meeting between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales? Indeed, that fight probably has three or four sessions from it that rival the intensity of Hagler- Hearns round one. And the list goes on. But, and I repeat, we have yet to see an OPENING round that is on par with 1985’s fight of the year.

Every time I settle in for a fight I wonder though. So far I’m still waiting!

Article posted on 13.10.2006

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