Great middleweight battles

Jesus Milano 15/09/2017
Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns

Top Rank

The pages of world boxing are full of countless combats that bring good memories to fans through time. They are battles that left a permanent mark in the memory of those who had the joy to witness them and others are more recent. They come up in chats at bars and cafes they frequent to talk about what happened and what is going on in the fistiana world.

Among those fights of the past as well as nowadays, there are some, that as we know, had very renown stars as protagonists in the middleweight category, a division in which we focus today because of the next combat between the Kazakhstani Gennady Golovkin, nicknamed Triple G, undefeated in 37 fights with 33 KO’s and the Mexican Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, who has lost only once by points against Floyd Mayweather in his 51 combats, 49 won, 1-1 and 34 KO’s.

The condensed space we have at hand forces us to summarize in the purpose to recall some of those historic confrontations. The first ones to come to mind when we review the history of the division are the fights that moved fans in the years 1908-09, Stanley Ketchel and Billy Papke (the most relevant in the division in the beginning of the past century), who crossed gloves in three occasions with a balance that favored the first one, who won by KO in the 12 and 11 rounds respectively and by points the third time.

Ketchel, murdered when he was just 24 years old by a jealous husband, left this world as US Champion. (The title of world champion was yet to be made official). He appears in the annals of the discipline as one of the best middleweights of any era. When he died, he had a record of 52-4-4 and 49 KO’s. One of his defeats was against the champion of two higher categories, Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight monarch in history.

The name of the “Sugar” Ray Robinson can’t be left out in a recount of such nature. “Sugar”, whose outstanding achievements were in the Welterweight category, was also a top-notch Middleweight. In his record of 173-19-6 with 108 KO’s and just one against, he has 5 famous wars against Jake LaMotta, he won 4, the last three in the 160lbs category and the last one ended in the 13th round when the referee stopped the carnage without the “Bull from the Bronx” ever being knocked down. This also never happened during his 5 combats with Robinson. LaMotta once said jokingly, of course, that it was a miracle not to be suffering from diabetes after so many fights against “Sugar”.

The Argentinian Carlos Monzón has a place of privilege in this summary. World champion of the middleweights for almost 7 years. In his page there are two fights for the title against the Italian Nino Benvenuti, one on November 7, 1970 (when he won the belt) and on May 8, 1971, resolved by the South American in 12 and 3 rounds respectively. Another two great combats in the division that had Monzón as the hero were the ones he won by tough decisions against the Colombian Rodrigo Valdéz in June-76 and July-77, he hung the trunks and gloves after these fights.

Marvin Hagler faced, among others, stars the size of Roberto “Mano ´e Piedra” Durán, Thomas Hearns and “Sugar” Ray Leonard. He defeated the first by a clear decision in October of 83. He KO’d the second one in 3 rounds in April of 85, after a first round, qualified as the most violent in boxing history. He lost the WBC belt on April 16, 1987 against Leonard (He was also WBA and IFB Champion for almost 7 years).

The ruling that gave the victory to “Sugar” 118-110, 115-113 and 113-115 caused a commotion at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and in the mass media. Most of them said that “Marvelous” had made enough merits for the victory.

After that, Hagler, still at his peak and only 33 years old, decided to leave the ring for good. He left behind 62 triumphs, 52 by KO, 2 draws and only 3 falls.