Barry McGuigan, writing in his regular boxing column for The Mirror, makes his case for Marvelous Marvin Hagler being not only the greatest middleweight ever, but also a man who would have had too much for fellow legends Sugar Ray Robinson and Carlos Monzon. McGuigan – who ruled the featherweight division for a brief, magical spell in the mid-1980’s – is not alone in ranking southpaw Hagler as the finest-ever at 160 pounds, yet plenty of other fight fans/historians will likely disagree with the Irishman’s belief that Hagler would have beaten both Robinson and Monzon.
“The Ring rates Hagler the third best middleweight of all time behind Sugar Ray Robinson and Carlos Monzon,” McGuigan writes. “For me he beats both, too big for Robinson at middleweight, too smart for Monzon. He stood 5ft 9.5ins with a freakish 75-inch reach. He was so adaptable and could punch with anybody – great combinations, good on the inside and that extra reach allowed him to really hit opponents with raking, punishing hooks.”
Hagler was of course all McGuigan says and more. But would Hagler, as great as he was, really have been too smart for Monzon? Monzon was as fierce a fighter as Hagler and he had underrated skills and brains. Also, Hagler could be intimidated by truly special fighters; as was the case, arguably at least, when he met Roberto Duran and later Sugar Ray Leonard. Monzon would have matched Hagler for toughness and for ring smarts, at least in my opinion. Had the two fought three times, Monzon would for certain have won at least one.
And would Hagler, all 5’9” of him, really have been to big for the incomparable Robinson? Sugar Ray beat big middleweights like Randy Turpin (the same height at Hagler) and Jake LaMotta (just an inch shorter than Marv) and of course, Robinson was handling the much bigger Joey Maxin until the scorching heat got to him. Do you think Sugar Ray would have had problems with Hagler’s size? Duran, so much naturally smaller than Hagler, came within a whisker of beating the Marvelous One in their 15 round battle. No, Robinson would have held his own in terms of physical strength, while he would have had too much speed, timing and sheer boxing brilliance for Hagler. Again, in my opinion.
McGuigan is a big fan of Hagler, as are many of us, and Hagler is indeed one of the top-five greatest middleweights in history. But Robinson and Monzon would have beaten him in the opinion of many, thus they both rank above him. Deservedly. One thing is certain, though – Hagler going up against Robinson, and Hagler going against Monzon would have made for two absolutely sensational fights.