Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Score it!... Leonard-Hagler (Part 1)

Welcome to the first edition of Score It!

For the first installment of this series, we’ll look back to April 6, 1987. On that night, Marvelous Marvin Hagler put his middleweight title on the line against former welterweight champion, Sugar Ray Leonard. Debates have raged for over 20 years about who really won that evening, with both sides steadfastly believing they are right.

We've assembled a panel of Boxing Bulletin writers to judge the fight and explain their scores. Today, we'll break down rounds 1-6.

The Judges: Lee Payton, Mark Lyons, Michael Nelson, John Vaci and Andrew Fruman.


“Leonard's round fairly handily. He stuck some nice jabs in the early going, and threw a few combinations before tying Hagler up. The only definitive Hagler blows were a couple of body punches.” – MN

“Leonard didn’t sit still, while Hagler followed, never managing to close the distance enough to get off. Leonard meanwhile picked his spots nicely to stop and fire off scoring blows.” – AF


“As commentator Gil Clancy pointed out, it's puzzling why Hagler would come out in the conventional stance again. Did Hagler ever explain his rationale? He clearly did better in the first round when he switched to southpaw. One of the great mysteries in boxing. This is one of the rounds Leonard "stole"; it was about even going into the final 30 seconds, before Leonard landed 4-5 good blows.” – MN

“Hagler is still just following him around. Ray continues to land with right hands and gets in a nice hook. Leonard is clinching big time but Marvin just isn't doing any work.” - ML

“Leonard did nothing but run, hold and hit on the break, while Hagler chased and tapped the body while being held. Not enough really happened to warrant giving this to anyone, I’m calling it even” - LP


“Marvin really banged Leonard in the clinches and was the only one throwing anything real this round. The challenger's plan is obvious- run, hold, hit on the break, throw a couple decent shots and run some more. Good for show, but not enough to earn the round.” – LP

“I thought Hagler had a slight lead with a minute to go, thanks to his steady pressure and decent bodywork, but some clean right hands and a couple nice combos by Leonard over the final minute pushed him ahead.” – AF

“Finally Hagler started using his southpaw stance and landed several lead straight lefts. Leonard as usual came on in the second half, but not enough to steal the round.” – JV


“Another close one. Hagler landed some good body shots and poked Ray with a few left hands. Leonard potshotted, held, landed a very low bolo punch, and edged it with a combination at the end.” – MN

“Hagler didn’t land often, but he consistently pressed and unlike the two previous rounds, Leonard wasn’t able to flurry late and steal it. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who gave the last round to Hagler, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who gave this one to Leonard. Both were razor close.” - AF


“This is the round Marvelous started putting some hurt on his elusive foe. Leonard did good for a minute, then Hagler worked him over.” - MN

I would have given an otherwise close round to Leonard, but Hagler buckled his knees with a right uppercut.” - JV

“Ray's best round, so far. He actually threw some meaningful shots
in there and was very accurate with right hands underneath and down the middle. It was all Ray until the champ got through on an exchange with 45 seconds to go that seemed to fire him up. He started working Leonard over and making him very uncomfortable, but was fought back the whole way. Hagler shook him a little at the end, but he was outworked, so I gave it to Leonard.” – LP


“Leonard bounces back with a strong round. Marvin presses forward but doesn't get much accomplished. Ray is visibly tiring but he paint brushes Hagler with several solid combinations the best of which was a right to the body and a hard hook to the head at the end of the round.” - ML

“Hagler managed to consistently get within punching range, but a spirited effort from an increasingly tired looking Leonard carried the round.” – AF

“Hagler did some good work on the inside with short punches, but Leonard landed the flashier punches and more of them.” - JV

We'll take a look at the second half of the fight tomorrow. Part 2