Paul J Daley – Hagler by Majority Decision – We continue our fantasy series with two of histories greatest Middleweights, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon, a match-up which is often brought into debate amongst the boxing fraternity that more often than not results in uncertainty as to a winner.
Both men can lay claim to being the greatest in their chosen weight class but whilst this is a true reflection, on this occasion there can be only be one.
So which of the two do I pick? That’s the conundrum we are faced with, lets start with Carlos Monzon who was a man with his fair share of demons, whereas some fighters flip the switch to become the monster they needed to be, Monzon was constant away from the bright lights of any boxing arena. Dark sinister eyes bore through lovers, family members and opposition alike, delivered with the same intensity of a man embracing the darkness.
His Private / Professional life was always in constant turmoil that would only snowball the richer he become. Women in particular bear the brunt of his anger with reports of abuse reported with every relationship he undertook, which gives you a basic understanding of the man inside and outside of a boxing ring.
Marvin Hagler also rose from a small acorn to become a giant oak, coming up on the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey, he would drop out of school at the age of 14 to work in a toy store. Marvin stumbled literally on boxing after being busted up by a practitioner of the pugilistic arts one afternoon. His mother would later say that in the aftermath of the confrontation Marvin would dream of emulating his heroes Emile Griffith and Floyd Patterson.
A new sense of direction he found a home at a gym run by Pat and Goody Petronelli two mainstay on his road to becoming the legendary figure we would go on to witness.
In answer to being the best, the answer given is never wrong because in reality it would be too close to call. On any given day my answer could sway from one to the other but upon this day I am being asked, I would favour Hagler.
This is the thought process that went into my mystical prediction:
The early rounds would see Monzon controlling the pace with his jab, trying to use distance to fire off his hard hitting shots all of which would bounce off the bald head of Hagler.
Going into the middle rounds there is a sense of confusion amongst fight fans on how we thought the fight to be so closely contested when Monzon seemingly bossing the earlier parts of the contest.
But during the midway point it seems that Hagler’s tactic of switch hitting is starting to puzzle Monzon for the first time in the contest he is unable to time his shots as efficient whilst Hagler’s continuation of wave after wave of offence starts to make it intended impact, now the American is able to close the gap between the two men to fire off combinations to the body.
Monzon’s legs still look strong but there is a sense that he is wilting under the pressure, in a bid to stem the assault he up’s his own levels of aggression in a bid to throw Hagler from his game plan and to entice him into trading in the middle of the ring.
Hagler is more than happy to oblige that brings a packed auditorium to their feet in appreciation of the action that is unfolding before their very eyes. Both men take a long hard look at the other before retiring to their corner neither willing to concede the stare.
Going into the championship rounds, the contest is close on the judges scorecards. Bathed in sweat, one last push for greatness is needed.
Hagler fires off a hard hitting left hook followed by a body shot that freezes the oncoming Monzon to the point that the only avenue open to him is to take a knee to regain his composure and the air that temporarily evades his system.
He uses the full eight count from the referee before boxing in the knowledge that he may now be behind on the judges scorecards. Throwing caution to the wind a hard shot makes Hagler stumble across the ring with seconds remaining, the ropes becoming the salvation from him feeling the cool comforts of the ring apron.
Anxiety becomes the overruling felling from both camps as the announcements were read out. The final tally coming in at 145-141, 143-143 and 144-142 for the winner Marvellous Marvin Hagler by Majority Decision.
Rene Bonsubre – Monzon DEC – Two middleweight greats who dominated the division in separate decades. The Argentine Monzon (87-3-9,59KO’s) and the American Hagler (62-3-2,52KO’s) were both undisputed during their reigns.
Monzon made 14 successful defenses from 1970-77 which was a division record until 2002. He was still champion on his retirement. Hagler ruled for seven years (1980-87) with 12 successful defenses.
Both had their share of fights against Hall of Famers. Monzon owns victories over Nino Benvenuti-twice, Emile Griffith-twice and Jose Napoles. He also has a couple of wins against the man who succeeded him as champion, Rodrigo Valdez.
Monzon’s title victory against Benvenuti – stopping him in twelve rounds – was Fight of the Year in 1970.
Hagler went 2W-1L against Hall of Fame boxers – beating Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns and losing to Sugar Ray Leonard. Hagler’s three round war with Hearns and the split verdict loss to Leonard were picked as Fight of the Year in 1985 and 1987 respectively.
Their common opponent is Philadelphia fighter Bennie Briscoe, who lost to Monzon by unanimous decision in a 1972 world title fight. They fought to a draw in a non-title bout five years earlier. Hagler beat Briscoe, also by UD in a non-title contest in 1978.
Monzon, nicknamed Escopeta, which means Shotgun, fought with an orthodox stance, and will have an advantage in length at 5’11” with a 76 inch reach.
Hagler a.k.a. Marvelous, stands 5’9” with a 75 inch reach and a southpaw who could shift to orthodox stance with ease.
Both are known for their great chins and boxing skills. Both were active when world championship fights were set for fifteen rounds, so it would be logical to make 15 the distance for this mythical match-up.
Unlike in the Leonard fight, Hagler starts left handed when the opening bell rang. He presses the action and targets Monzon’s body.
Monzon adjusts and uses his reach and ring movement effectively. His subtle step back and counter frustrates Hagler. Monzon uses his shotgun right hand lead against the southpaw and snaps Hagler’s head back.
Hagler shakes it off and uses his speed to get inside and tries to rough up Monzon when he got close. The fight turns into a grueling chess match. But the tactical struggle gave Monzon a slight edge with his measured attack.
The final bell rings and no one in the crowd is sure who won.
Two judges had it 143-142 for Monzon, one had it for Hagler with the same scoreline.
Sean Bastow – Hagler SD – Here we have the number one and number two greatest middleweights in boxing history in one of the most sought-after fantasy fights there is.
In one corner you have Carlos “Escopeta” Monzon who was dominant over the course of the 1970’s. Monzon won the Middleweight championship with a victory over fellow hall of famer Nino Benvenuti in 1970 and went on to defend 14 times during his nearly seven-year title reign. He defeated such legendary fighters as Benvenuti, Bennie Briscoe, Emile Griffith, Jose Napoles and Rodrigo Valdez.
In the opposing corner you have Marvelous Marvin Hagler who ruled the Middleweight division with an iron fist for a six and one-half year period between 1980 and 1987, defending 12 times with 11 stoppages. The Marvelous One defeated men such as Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Cyclone Hart, Bennie Briscoe, Vito Antuofermo, Alan Minter, Tony Sibson, Thomas Hearns and John Mugabi among numerous others.
The question you are all asking is who walks away as the winner?
I believe that if these two legendary names did battle at their peak, you would see a fifteen round slugfest where neither fighter takes a backward step. Both have the capability of hurting one another, but both also have the grit, heart and determination that is required to see through the fifteen-round distance.
Monzon would take the earlier rounds utilizing his slight physical advantages over Hagler, but as the fight wears on, for me Monzon slows down and Hagler starts to cut the ring off well and gets on the inside of Monzon wearing down the body of the Argentinean. Expect both to have their successes throughout the course of the bout with Monzon having that second wind in the championship rounds, but it wont be enough as Hagler for me would go on to win a split decision with two of the three judges scoring it 143-141 & 143-142 with the third giving it to Monzon with a card of 144-142.
In typical outspoken fashion of Monzon, he would claim that the judges have robbed him of victory whereas Hagler would be dignified in victory claiming Monzon had heart but was just out-hustled.
Dean Berks – Hagler PTS – Just two years separated the end of Monzon’s reign and Hagler’s first overdue shot at 160lb glory. Had this happened earlier, we may have witnessed one man rubber-stamping his greatness or maybe the proverbial passing of the torch. Instead we are left ponder the answer to “what if?”. In my opinion, we would have witnessed a fight of serious magnitude.
Monzon’s style was robust, efficient and highly effective. Classically built for the division, 5 feet 11 1/2 inches tall with a 76 inch reach, he favoured the classic long jab right hand combination. Up close, he would overwhelm his opponents, using his natural strength to his advantage. In contrast, Hagler was fairly short for the weight, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, but made up for this with a long reach, 75 inches. A smooth boxer puncher, he effortlessly switched between stances, breaking his opponents down, although he could be explosive if he started fast. Both men possessed outstanding durability, Monzon tasting the canvas only twice in a remarkable 100 fights, whilst Hagler incorrectly had a count issued against him, clearly a slip, when facing Juan Roldan, his only one in 67 fights. Neither was ever stopped.
I believe if they had met, that a full fifteen round distance fight would have occurred. Hagler’s fluidity would see him bank the early rounds, scoring a flash second round knockdown, before Monzon’s accuracy and control of distance took the middle rounds. Going in to the final third, the rounds would go back and forth, neither man conceding ground. But I feel that Hagler had a bit more adaptability in his repertoire, and this is what helps take him to a close points decision.
Dan Barrett – Hagler TKO – As concerning style, there are areas in which Monzon, judging from footage, would appear vulnerable, within that particular context matching him with the precipitous and congenitally vigorous Hagler:
a) the frequency whereby Monzon allowed openings to the head to be rendered available, such as those which had been occasionally exploited by Briscoe and Griffith b) the slow retraction of the jab with the resulting & quite exploitable opening to the left side of Monzon’s head, c) the limitions imposed on Monzon by the specificities of angle and distance, required of Monzon’s technique for power delivery of the right hand; d) the infrequency of use, and the questionable efficacy, of the left hook; e) an identifiable and cumbrous deliberateness in lateral motion; f) the fighter’s lack of fluidity and effectiveness, and his needless squaring-up, when put on back foot.
My estimation’s that Hagler – especially that top-form Hagler of the Hagler/Hearns or Hagler/Minter bouts – would, after round 1, begin to inexorably punish and wear down Monzon, consistently from mid-ring to post, before ultimately writing a TKO-epilogue consisting of a series of subduing combinations in round 7. One might further add, would our fantasy match have involved Tommy Hearns – especially given the latter’s height, his repertoire of punch types, his quick mobility, his alarming power, his outstanding work to the body, and his general hand speed – that Monzon, somewhere in round 6, would have proved ripe fruit for Tommy’s thunderous right hand: and – in like manner as that by which Duran was irremediably felled – by single punch, knocked spark the f**k out.