Former undisputed middleweight world champion Marvin Hagler has died aged 66, his wife confirmed on Saturday.
The American, nicknamed ‘Marvelous’, dominated the division from 1980 through to 1987 and was named Boxing Illustrated’s 1980s Fighter of the Decade before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Hagler vowed never to fight again after a judges decision went against in his bout with Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987, with the latter coming out on top in a controversial 12-round split to claim the WBC middleweight title.
The New Jersey-born fighter’s son, James, said earlier on Saturday that his father had been taken to hospital after experiencing difficulty breathing and he passed away around four hours later at his New Hampshire home.
‘I am sorry to make a very sad announcement,’ Hagler’s wife, Kay Guarrera, told his supporters on a Facebook page.
‘Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire. Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.’
Hagler’s epic showdown with Thomas Hearns, despite only lasting three rounds, is considered by boxing fans to be one of the greatest fights in history.
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The pair would go on to have a friendship for life and Hearns, now 62, paid tribute to the man who beat him back in 1985 and slammed those linking his death with the coronavirus vaccine.
‘Allow us to have our peace. Our love and respect to Marvin and his family, this is not an anti vaccine campaign,’ Hearns wrote on Instagram.
‘It’s outrageous to have that in mid during the passing of a King, Legend, Father, Husband and so much more. The Marvelous one Marvin Hagler #BoxersArePeopleToo’
Tributes from around the boxing world poured in following the announcement of Hagler’s death, with Frank Warren, Oscar De La Hoya, Bob Arum and Teddy Atlas among those to pen heartfelt messages on social media.
‘Rest In Peace Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Boxing lost an all time great today,’ Warren wrote.
De La Hoya said: ‘Saddened to hear about the death of Marvelous Marvin Hagler. One of the greatest to ever step in the ring! #RIPMarvelous’ Marvelous Marvin Hagler was among the greatest athletes that Top Rank ever promoted,’ Arum tweeted.
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‘He was a man of honor and a man of his word, and he performed in the ring with unparalleled determination. He was a true athlete and a true man. I will miss him greatly.’
Atlas told his followers: ‘He was a no frills solid man, who brought a lunch pale filled with power, guts, pride, will, talent and character. And he fought everyone, anytime, anywhere. And he was great. He was Marvin Hagler. R. I. P. Champ. #marvinhagler’
Heavyweight icon Lennox Lewis revealed how he and Hagler would speak regularly on the phone and said ‘the world is one great man less today’ in an emotional series of tweets on his official page.
‘I’m simply stunned to hear the news of Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Not only was he a living legend, but I was proud to call him my friend,’ Lewis wrote.
‘He was so full of life, energy and positivity in our conversations that you would never guess what a wrecking machine he was in the ring. Our wives would speak on the phone to connect us and I’ll miss his voice saying “It’s Marvelous” on the other end of the line. We were anxiously looking forward to seeing him at our League of Champions Boxing Camp when it reopened.
‘This one hits so hard also because he was the one I emulated my own training camps on after when I saw how seriously he took his training camps. The world is one great man less today.
‘From my family to Kay, and the entire Hagler family, our deepest sympathies go out to you and we’re sending prayers for strength and guidance.’Photo Credit: Getty