“Rob, if God ever created the perfect built boxer, it was Marvin Hagler,” Roberto Silva, Sr., my father, said while describing Hagler’s physique the first time we saw him fight back on November 30, 1979 against Vito Antoufermo.
Just a few hours ago another icon of my childhood passed away. Marvelous Marvin Hagler was one of the three greatest southpaw fighters in boxing history. Only Pernell Whitaker and Manny Pacquiao were on his level in terms of lefty greatness. Hagler was also one of the greatest boxer punchers who ever lived who was also the most avoided fighter of the 1970s. After his controversial draw in the aforementioned fight against the then world middleweight champion Antoufermo, Hagler had to wait 10 months before securing another shot at the 160-pound champion. This time, it would be against another southpaw, the slick boxer from Great Britain and Antoufermo’s conqueror, Alan Minter. It was the night Hagler became Marvelous.
The weeks leading up to the fight would be marred by an insensitive racist remark by Minter. Minter, upset that Hagler refused to shake his hand before Hagler’s fight with Antoufermo, vowed that he did not intend to lose his title to a Black man. Hagler responded by stating, “He will pay for saying that when we meet at Wembley.”
Minter would pay with his blood.
The fight was held at London’s Wembley Arena with a raucous sellout crowd of over 12,000. Hagler’s body looked like an African King while Minter looked his normal self, a decent looking physique that paled in comparison to the brick house of a body Hagler had. My father and I sat in front of our black and white television in the living room anticipating a dominant win by the challenger. Pop had been telling me since I started watching boxing three years prior to this fight that Hagler was the best kept secret in boxing. The 26-year-old challenger from Brockton, Massachusetts had a hunger my father claimed that combined with his incredible skills inside the ring were an unbeatable combination. There was no way Marvin was going to lose to Minter this evening.
Round one was evenly fought as both men consistently landed their right jabs. Hagler had a cannon for a right jab and still, till this day, I’ve never seen a more potent jab by a southpaw than Hagler’s. Round two was all Hagler as he landed several combinations off of the backtracking Minter’s face, resulting in the champion’s nose being busted open. Pop and I were hollering at the television as we were loving the damage Hagler was inflicting on the champion. The carnage would increase tenfold in round three.
Hagler came out for like a shark that smelled blood. For the first 90 seconds of the round, Hagler landed several scintillating combinations that opened up massive cuts on both of Minter’s eyes. Minter was badly hurt when referee Carlos Berrocal stepped in and stopped the fight. Immediately, the Wembley crowd began throwing bottles and other debris into the ring at Hagler. Hagler’s cornermen, the Petronelli brothers, shielded Hagler from the flying objects being hurled his way. The London Bobbies were able to get Marvin out of the ring before the rowdy fans could do physical harm to the new undisputed middleweight champion of the world. After the fight ended, my father proclaimed that Hagler would not lose the title anytime soon as there wasn’t a middleweight on his planet that could carry his jockstrap.
Minter was never the same after being massacred by Hagler, retiring a year later after losing two of his next three fights. Despite the crowd’s protest the night he lost, Minter did not make any excuses the night he was bludgeoned by Hagler. The fact is that he was overwhelmed by a man who was just simply Marvelous on the night of September 27, 1980.