1. THERE was high demand to witness the November 10 1983 world middleweight title showdown between champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler and reigning WBA 154lb king, Roberto Duran. British fans paid £15 or £20 to watch a live broadcast on cinema screens, as Frank Warren in association with Savile Artists presented showings in Leicester Square, Bloomsbury, and Gants Hill.
2. OVER in Las Vegas, 20,000 fans crammed into Caesars Palace to see if Duran, 32, could upset the odds and defeat the increasingly formidable Hagler in what would be the richest fight in middleweight history to that point. Hagler, three years Duran’s junior, enjoyed a two-and-a-half inch height advantage, and outreached the Panamanian by eight-and-a-half inches.
3. PROMOTER Bob Arum, who announced both fighters could make $10million from the bout if it sold well on all avenues, would not have been surprised to see the upset. “Hagler has never fought a guy who moves like Duran moves,” said Arum. “Duran is now very serious and when he’s got his head on straight I think he’s the greatest fighter in the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if he beat Hagler.”
4. BUT Hagler, who was three years into a reign he had long craved, was not about to give up his title easily. “There’s a monster that comes out of me in the ring. I think it goes back to the days when I had nothing. They’re all trying to take something from me that I’ve worked long and hard for, and I like the feeling of being champ.”
5. HAGLER almost lost that feeling. After 13 rounds of the scheduled 15 Duran – cheered on by 2,000 flag bearing Panamanians – was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. But the American turned it on over the final six minutes, hurting Roberto in the last, to emerge the deserved winner via too-close scores of 144-142, 146-145, and 144-143.
6. AT the final bell, Duran sneered and snorted, and afterwards typically offered no encouragement for the man who had just defeated him. “[Ray] Leonard is a much better fighter and boxer,” he remarked at the press conference – then staged on the morning after the fight. “I want Hagler again. I think I deserve a rematch.”
7. HAGLER concluded the contest with blood pouring down his face. Told that he was blaming the cut on a butt, Duran laughed heartily. “That’s a good one,” he said. “We lost and we aren’t making any excuses. That’s funny.”
8. THE Duran camp could have made excuses, though. His right hand was injured and swollen from the fifth round. It was officially diagnosed as an “aggravated former trauma of the distel aspect of the hand.”
9. GOODY PETRONELLI, one of the Brockton brothers who guided Hagler, said: “If Marvin had put more pressure on in the first 10 rounds it wouldn’t have gone 15.”
10. BUT Hagler, growing tired of the criticisms he was facing despite winning, declared: “If I’d had one more round I could have knocked him out, but all I wanted to do was win, and I did.”