Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler Come Face to FaceWritten by Richard V. Powell
The 49th annual WBC Convention in Las Vegas provided the backdrop for one of the most anticipated outside-the-ring moments in boxing this year – The first face-to-face meeting of legends Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler in over 20 years.
Their epic battle, which took place April 6, 1987, remains one of the most controversial fights in boxing history and still polarizes the press and hardcore and casual fans alike.
Leonard was awarded a controversial split-decision, winning on two judges' scorecards 115–113 and 118-110 and losing 115-113 on the other. Many, including Hagler himself, felt that Hagler deserved the decision because he was the aggressor and appeared to land the harder punches. Leonard threw 629 punches and landed 306, while Hagler threw 792 and landed 291. Despite requests from Hagler, Leonard was not interested in a rematch and retired six weeks after the fight only to announce another comeback thirteen months later - a month after Hagler officially announced his retirement.
Hagler, who insisted Leonard admitted defeat when whispering in his ear moments after the fight's conclusion, would remain bitter towards Leonard for years to come.
As attendees of the WBC's star-studded event assembled at the Mandalay Bay Resort, Ray Leonard entered the hall first and took a seat next to one of his other nemeses, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns. If there was still any blood between them it wasn't evident last night as they smiled and laughed together like old friends.
When reporters asked Leonard how he thought he'd be received by Hagler, the Sugar Man dismissed the notion there would be any tension asserting their rivalry was a long time ago. However, the general feeling among onlookers was Hagler wouldn't be so nonchalant.
Moments later Marvelous Marvin Hagler entered the room, surrounded by a throng of media and fans. He slowly made his way to a spot a behind Leonard. Neither legend acknowledged the other and Hagler appeared uncomfortable as his old foe was standing directly in front of him but facing in another direction.
The session proceeded without incident as both men seemed unwilling to engage one another while those around them stole clandestine peeks of the two rivals, curiously wondering when or if drama would ensue.
Later that night at the opening gala, Leonard and Hagler sat at adjoining tables and unlike their previous encounter, the two legends were directly positioned in each other's line of vision.
Finally, someone made the first move.
Wearing a stern look, Hagler pointed at Leonard and shook his finger at his old foe. But the tension ignited by Hagler's gesture was short-live and the Marvelous One broke out in a big smile. The anxiety and tension that had been building was gone as both men, now gleaming, left their seats to exchange pleasantries and pose for pictures.
At a convention littered with joyous moments, the apparent truce between Leonard and Hagler was arguably the most memorable. No longer appearing bitter, Hagler seems to have finally put all of his resentment to rest and seemed genuinely happy to see Leonard, the fighter with whom he's held a grudge against since April 6, 1987.
It's been said, "Time heals all wounds."