WBO champions sit back to enjoy Hagler v Leonard 30 years on, give views on the event

Top Rank 04/04/2017

With the 30th anniversary of The SuperFight: Hagler vs. Leonard just days away (April 6), undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) world champions ÓSCAR VALDEZ, GILBERTO “Zurdo” RAMIREZ and JESSIE MAGDALENO, as well as 2016 Olympic silver medalist SHAKUR STEVENSON, who are headlining an exciting world championship tripleheader, and Stevenson’s pro debut, which will take place on Saturday, April 22, under the stars at StubHub Center in Carson, shared their views on the fight.

This month’s big event featuring the three champions will be produced and distributed live on pay-per-view.

In turn, each fighter and his respective trainer took a break from training to watch a clean tape of the fight, minus audio and graphics, and score it. The fighters shared their views on the fight as well.

Promoter Bob Arum began the proceedings…

BOB ARUM: You are going to be hearing from these great young fighters that after reviewing the tape of the Hagler-Leonard fight will give you their opinions on who won the fight based on what they saw from the telecast which was given to them without any sound or graphics on it. Top Rank promoted that fight, which took place on April 6 — thirty years ago before any of these men were born and it was a momentous event in the world of boxing. 

I want to set the scene for that event particularly for the younger people who may not be aware. The scene was very important. Marvelous Marvin Hagler had come up the hard way in boxing. He had never been to the Olympics and he fought any fighter that would step in the ring with him. He’d have to go from Boston to Philadelphia and other places to find opponents who would fight him. Through intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neil and Senator Ted Kennedy who sent letters to various people, including myself at Top Rank, they forced everyone to give Marvelous Marvin Hagler a shot at the middleweight title. His first shot, I thought he clearly won the fight against Vito Antifermo, but the judges scored it a draw.

A year later he fought Alan Minter over in London and stopped Minter in the early rounds — bloodying him so much that the fight had to be stopped. Marvin was greeted by the great sportsmen in England by a barrage of bottles and cans so that everybody had to hide under the ring until the police were ready to restore order. But came back to the United States a real hero then he embarked on a streak of defending his middleweight title. His first big fight was in 1983 against Roberto Duran and then in ’85 in a major, major event he and Thomas Hearns fought a great middleweight championship battle and Marvin knocked Tommy out in the third round. Marvin wanted to retire from boxing at that point but his managers and myself as the promoter convinced him to carry on and in 1986 he fought John “The Beast” Mugabi and Mugabi was a tough hard-punching guy — they went toe-to-toe and in the eleventh round, Marvin knocked Mugabi out.

Ray Leonard had been retired for a number of years and he had been watching that fight and he saw what very few people saw – that Marvin was aging, he was slowing up and Ray, even though he was retired, felt he could come back and take on Hagler. When he announced that he was coming out of retirement, people were incredulous. Hagler went off as a 6:1 or 7:1 favorite in the fight because Leonard was retired and Hagler was this dominant champion – nobody gave Leonard a chance. To put it in perspective, remember the media frenzy when Manny Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya? All of the media people were saying what a mismatch it was and De La Hoya was an overwhelming favorite. We remember, because it was fairly recent, what happened in that fight, Pacquiao dominated and won that fight, but the feeling was the same going into the Hagler-Leonard fight. Ray Leonard was a great fighter, retired, and then coming out of retirement against this dominant middleweight, Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

The country was mesmerized. Ray Leonard was extremely popular – he was the poster boy for boxing. I hope that young Shakur Stevenson will follow in the footsteps of Ray Leonard because he has that kind of personality, but Ray was the darling of America and the darling of boxing. Marvin was respected – everybody realized what a workman-like fighter he was. To sell that fight I called it ‘The Yuppie’ being Leonard who came out of the Olympics with a Gold Medal and had big television exposure from the beginning against the blue collar guy Marvin Hagler who had worked himself up and become the dominant middleweight of his time.

The closed circuit locations were filled. This was the first fight that really touched/started into pay-per-view in various parts of the country. It was a massive, massive event. The fight was sold out in one day and everyone was gathered for this terrific event. I’ll tell you I haven’t seen that fight in 30 years but I remember it as if it happened yesterday. We will talk to the fighters on the call that recently watched the fight and get their views.

ÓSCAR VALDEZ, Undefeated WBO Featherweight World Champion who defends his title against the No. 1 contender, Miguel Marriaga on Saturday, April 22, at StubHub Center, Live on Pay Per View: “First of all I want to say it was a great, great fight. I saw the fight when I was a kid because my dad always showed me tapes of the fights. Watching without the audio I thought that Hagler was the more aggressive fighter. Leonard was moving a lot in the early rounds but was trying to win the later rounds with that speed. I think Hagler did enough to win the fight and I had him winning 115-113.”

GILBERTO RAMÍREZ: Undefeated WBO Super Middleweight Champion, defends his title against top ten contender Max Bursack, also on April 22, live on pay per view: “That was really interesting and a great fight to watch – for me, for my trainer Hector [Zapari] and for the whole team – we watched the fight together. For me, I had Sugar Ray Leonard by three rounds because at the beginning of the fight Hagler pressured more but he looked a little bit tired later – he fought the whole fight going forward. I thought Leonard won the fight because he moved around the ring and he threw more punches.”

JESSIE MAGDALENO: Undefeated WBO Junior Featherweight Champion defends his title against Adeilson De Los Santos on the April 22 pay per view show at StubHub Center: “I scored the fight real close. It was a great fight. They both did a tremendous job and they went in there to pretty much kill each other, but I scored the fight 115-113 for Leonard. I thought Leonard controlled most of the fight. He never let Hagler get in the rhythm or get inside like Hagler usually does to use his power. Leonard really out-boxed him for the full 12-rounds and used his smarts, speed and footwork to keep Hagler away and that’s what got the victory for him.”

SHAKUR STEVENSON: 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist, makes his pro debut in a six-round featherweight bout on April 22, live on pay per view: “I would love to say that I thought Marvin Hagler won because he was from my hometown [Newark], but to be honest, watching the fight and watching Sugar Ray Leonard – Leonard was a beast. I had it 115-113, but Leonard was real good especially coming out of retirement.”

Shakur, how are you looking to make your pro debut?

SHAKUR STEVENSON: I am very excited and I can’t wait. I feel like I perform under the lights and I am actually excited to perform on April 22 and do what I’ve got to do.

Ray Leonard was not only a great boxer but also a pretty good showman. Do you pattern yourself after him?

SHAKUR STEVENSON: Actually, to be honest with you, I just started watching Ray Leonard. As I am watching, and watching more and more, I try and pick up certain things that he does and trying to add that into my style.

Any regrets about not making your debut in Newark?

SHAKUR STEVENSON: No regrets. I don’t care where I am at. I am a fighter and I am going to fight either way.

Bob, what do you think about Shakur’s prospects?

BOB ARUM: I think that Shakur is going to be a major star in boxing. He has the talent and he has the personality and he is managed by good people – James Prince and Andre Ward. I think the sky is the limit for him. I am really proud of this April 22nd card – introducing Shakur to professional boxing and to have my three great young world champions defending their titles. These three young kids, relatively young, Oscar, Gilberto and Jessie are tremendous young men and great fighters. They works their asses off – they really work hard. They are great role models now that they have been fighting for four or more years now. They are great role models for Shakur. We are looking for big things for all of them and as far as Shakur is concerned, I think he should emulate a guy like Sugar Ray Leonard, who was a great personality, as well as a great fighter.

ÓSCAR VALDEZ: Hagler-Leonard was a great fight. It’s a new era where Jessie Magdaleno and Zurdo Ramírez and myself and of course Shakur Stevenson, a great fighter, I love his style. It’s a new era and these are examples that motivates us. Jessie and I work in the same gym every day and we push each other to the limit every single day. And we have a tough, tough fight ahead of us in Miguel Marriaga, the number one contender in the WBO and I can see in his eyes that he wants to accomplish his dream, to become a world champion. But I worked so hard to get this world title and be here and I’m not planning on leaving this anytime soon. I’m working very, very hard because I see these fighters want to take something away from me. I want to give a great fight to the fans at StubHub and those fans tuning into the pay-per-view.

JESSIE MAGDALENO: Hagler and Leonard made great history and now you have these young and up-and-coming new world champions who are ready to show the world what we’re able and capable of doing. April 22 is going to be a night of fireworks.

SHAKUR STEVENSON: Hagler-Leonard, that was a great era but now it’s our turn to begin our own legacy and create our own era where we have fights like that [Hagler-Leonard} down the line and I can’t wait for that to happen. But as of now, I’m focused on doing what I have to do on April 22, going in there and catching a knockout. That’s my plan.

BOB ARUM: Thirty years from now, we’ll be talking — I hope I’ll be talking (laughing) — about major, major fights that these young men will have had. And we’ll be looking back to those fights as being key points and key aspects of boxing in our era.

Valdez (21-0, 19 KOs), from Nogales, México, will be making the second defense of his WBO featherweight title against No. 1 contender and NABO champion Miguel “Escorpión” Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs), from Arjona, Colombia; Ramírez (34-0, 24 KOs), from Mazatlán, México, will be making his first defense of the WBO super middleweight title against Top-10 contender Max “Tiger” Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine; Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) of Las Vegas, Nev., will be making the first defense of his WBO junior featherweight title against WBO Latino champion Adeilson “Dell” Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KOs), of São Paulo, Brasil, and Stevenson, the crown jewel of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team and the pride of Newark, NJ, will be making his eagerly-awaited professional debut in a six-round featherweight bout.

The six world championship warriors have a combined record of 155-7-1 (110 KOs) for a winning percentage of 95% with a victory by knockout ratio of 71%.

Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with All Star Boxing, Zapari Boxing Promotions and Antonio Leonard Productions, remaining tickets to this world championship tripleheader are priced at $128.50, $77.50, $52.00 and $36.70. They may be purchased online at AXS.com, by phone at (888) 9AXS-TIX, or by visiting the StubHub Center box office.