Happy Birthday, Hagler-Hearns! Is it still the greatest fight ever?

Imagine if, right now, you were eagerly awaiting the big fight tonight and it was Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns. Back when this one was coming up, fans everywhere knew they would get a great fight; they just didn’t know how great. For the three utterly explosive rounds these two special fighters gave us shocked even hardened fight experts, as the terrific HBO “The Tale Of Hagler-Hearns” show explains.

Often voted as THE greatest fight in boxing history; the result of the eight minutes of furnace-like warfare – a whole 15 rounds of action crammed into eight minutes – Hagler-Hearns has reached a near mythical status. Turn it on right now, and see if you still get shivers down your spine when watching that opening round; this without a doubt THE greatest opening three minutes in all of boxing (name a better, greater, more unbelievably exciting opening round if you can!)

And rounds two and three are not far behind the first in terms of drama and beautifully brutal two-way punching. Hagler, his face covered with blood as a result of a nasty cut Hearns had placed on the middleweight king’s forehead, was deemed in bad enough shape by the referee to need a viewing by the ringside doctor. Thankfully, the fight was not stopped; instead allowed to go on, Hagler getting his chance at greatness.

But would the fight have been stopped these days? We’ve seen some fights stopped due to far less severe cuts, and just maybe a panicked doctor would wave the action off in today’s safety-first world. How differently would we all look at Hagler and Hearns today if “The Hitman” had won: the result being Hearns TKO3 Hagler, not Hagler KO3 Hearns.

But in terms of sheer, non-stop action, has this fight ever been topped? We’ve seen some truly great fights since that 1985 war: the Barrera-Morales fights, the classic Coralles-Castillo thriller and of course the Gatti-Ward battles. But what makes Hagler-Hearns so special, so in its own category, is the manner in which two great champions, with so much on the line, simply tore right into one another at the sound of the opening bell.

Where was the feeling out process? Where was the cautions today’s top names observe? This unforgettable middleweight slugfest, fought between two of The Four Kings, saw a duo of superstars do something no pound-for-pound fighter has done since. Will there ever be a first round to better the one Marvelous Marvin and The Hitman gave us 32 years ago today?