A great fighter retreats with wealth and intact abilities.
He then retires – resisting the persuasions of the promoter, the public and the ferocious power of his own ego, which made him great in the first place.
It’s the most amazing boxing story.
And the happiest.
And that’s the marvelous Marvin Hagler, forever.
“When I reconsider what the hell I’ve been doing in boxing all these years, I mean Marvin Hagler,” Bob Arum said on Saturday, shortly after being notified of Hagler’s death. “He was the most loyal, dedicated fighter I have ever promoted.”
It’s from a 55-year-old man, a guy who couldn’t persuade Hagler to come back again. Not for lack of an attempt, no matter the cost.
Arum recalls being in the Caesars Palace in the late 1980s. Muhammad Ali was there. Tommy Hearns was there. So were Roberto Duran and Ray Leonard, about a year after Leonard won his controversial decision over Hagler.
“Tell Marvin to do it again, rematch,” Leonard told Aruma. “We will create wealth. Tell him.”
As Leonard’s logic was irrefutable, Arum sent a message.
Hagler looked at the promoter. “Tell Ray to get a life,” he said.
There’s no disputing the great Leonard, but that’s the hardest part. For fighters, fighting is an easy thing to do. Don’t fight harder. Having a life, being happy, healthy and rich enough to enjoy after a fight is the hardest suggestion of all. And when you evaluate Hagler’s place in boxing history – always a controversial decision to Leonard, a less ambiguous decision about Duran, stopping Alan Minter, Vit Antuoferm, Hearns (look at ESPN +) and John Mugabi – this should be considered his greatest victory.
The Greatest Himself could not do that. I remember when I first saw Ali personally signing haberdashery at Macy’s. Someone had to wipe the saliva from his mouth. It was horrible to see, but even in the middle of this extended celebration of Ali-Frazier’s 50th anniversary, and the memory of Ali’s majesty, is worth remembering.
Hagler did not return after Leonard’s fight.
He was not indebted to the tax administration.
He did not feel the need to sell himself at the “exhibition.”
He didn’t need to feed his ego or alleviate regret. Other people might argue about the meaning of his career or Leonardo’s struggle itself. Hagler knew what he had done. He uttered his piece in the ring at his best years, as it should be. And when he was done, he was done.
He actually wanted it to end sooner. “He wanted to retire after Hearns,” Arum said, referring to their three-round standard for shocking title battles. “But he had a huge job in casinos. It was the biggest weekend at Caesars Palace.”
Arum remembers that the casino raised its offer of “a few million”, even when a few million meant something. Finally, Hagler would fight Mugabi, 25-0, with all the stops, even if 25-0 actually meant something.
Hagler eventually allowed himself to talk to Mugabi, whom he knocked out in the 11th round. Then 13 months later – by then he knew his skills were eroding – it was Leonard.
“I remember driving for about five hours with Pete Petronelli, his manager, in the middle of the night,” Arum recalled. “When we finally get to his house in New Hampshire, Pat tells me to wait in the car. He goes to meet Marvin. They talk in this little picnic area on the side of the house. It goes on and on, on and on. I finally see Marvin he bangs his fists on the table. I think, ‘This isn’t going so well.’ Then Pat got back to the car. “
“What is to all about? Arum asked
“You won’t believe this,” said Petronelli, who along with his brother Goody, Hagler’s coach, offered to cut their compensation by 50 percent to make the fight happen.
“What did he say?” Arum asked.
He said, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to fight this bastard, but if you do, you better take the whole fee.’ “
Hagler and Leonard fought on April 6, 1987 (look at ESPN +).
“He never hurt me,” Hagler said afterward.
“Where is he going now?” Leonard asked. “I’m sad for him. Really.”
As it happened, Hagler got his life, as he was thrilled in 1990 Rick Telander in Sports Illustrated. He moved to Milan and became an actor, mostly villains in action movies. He still had most of the money, most of the $ 40 million, health and memories intact.
“I saw Joe Louis at the Caesars Palace door just shaking hands and it left a bad taste in my mouth,” he told Telander. “That’s when I saw Jersey Joe Walcott doing the same thing in Atlantic City.”
Earlier that year, Hagler traveled back to the United States to see his daughter finish high school. He ran into Petronelli.
“For the first time in my life, I’m happy with myself,” he told the manager. “I’m retired.”
Even if he still refused unspeakable riches for the rematch with Leonard.
“I just talked to Ray,” Arum said Saturday night. “It’s really broken.”