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Thread: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

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    25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered
    By Lee Groves from Boxing Scene

    Hagler-Hearns.

    For those who were lucky enough to witness their battle for the undisputed middleweight title 25 years ago today, their hyphen-linked names remain a short-cut method of describing the kind of robust, vigorous combat that is promised so often in pre-fight promotions, but seldom fulfilled.

    Their eight minutes of mayhem remains the gold standard in terms of succinct savagery between members of the boxing elite and serves as validation for those who must explain to their friends why they love boxing so much.

    The pairing was so combustible that it didn’t need a fancy title to sell it to the public. Like the first fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Hagler-Hearns was simply known as “The Fight”; like that historic heavyweight showdown “The Marvelous One” and the “Hitman” delivered the goods as few fights ever have.

    The back-and-forth theatrics fulfilled the greatest desires of every fan: Drama, action, shifting changes of fortune, huge punches from both combatants and an explosive, conclusive ending that cemented the winner’s greatness as well as the loser’s valor.

    As titanic as was the actual battle, it only served as the culmination of an extended build-up that raised tensions to a tantalizing peak.

    This fight was originally scheduled to take place May 24, 1982, two months after Hagler destroyed William “Caveman” Lee in 67 seconds and nearly three months after Hearns wiped out Marcos Geraldo in 108 seconds. An injury to Hearns’ vaunted right hand caused the fight to be rescheduled for July 12, then canceled altogether.

    Hagler, eager to cement his status against a household name as well as cash the huge paycheck that came with it, was incensed.

    “He was going to make two million dollars and then he turned down two million dollars,” an exasperated Hagler said. He then taunted “The Hitman” from afar, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he said, “he started complaining about his little baby pinkie. Do you know how many people would give a million dollars for that little baby pinkie? They’d cut that thing off.”

    The fighters would go their separate ways and go about the business of building their reputations further.

    Hearns, who changed his “Hitman” moniker to the less violent “Motor City Cobra” at the request of Detroit’s mayor at the time, lived up to that nickname by showing only flashes of the enormous power that vaulted him into the public consciousness.

    He stopped Jeff McCracken in eight rounds before dethroning WBC junior middleweight champion Wilfred Benitez in a fight that resembled chess more than chest-to-chest combat. He tested the middleweight waters with a virtual shutout over Murray Sutherland, and then retained his 154-pound belt with a ho-hum unanimous decision over Luigi Minchillo.

    By the time he stepped into the ring at Caesars Palace to fight Roberto Duran on June 15, 1984, Hearns had a change of heart. He once again declared himself the “Hitman” and boasted that he would destroy the Panamanian legend as no one had ever done before.

    It was a bold statement given that Duran not only had never been knocked out but also had suffered only two knockdowns in his 17-year, 82-fight career, the last of which occurred more than 10 years earlier.

    Hearns, however, knew what he was talking about. He scored two knockdowns in the first round and then delivered a crushing right to the chin in the second that forced Duran to pitch forward and land face-first on the canvas in a semi-conscious haze.

    Hearns followed that spectacular performance with another one as he blasted out the once-beaten Fred Hutchings in three one-sided rounds. It was the definitive preamble to a showdown with Hagler, who by then was hailed as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.

    The shaven-skulled slugger from Brockton by way of Newark, N.J. earned those accolades the old-fashioned way – by decimating a continuous string of mandatory challengers.

    First was the rematch with Fulgencio Obelmejias, which ended in five rounds with a wicked right hook to the jaw. Hagler then sliced and diced the rugged Brit Tony Sibson before disposing of him in six. After that he literally laid Wilford Scypion at his feet in four rounds, “just the way I wanted him.”

    But just as he was gaining recognition as the best fighter of the post Sugar Ray Leonard era, his reputation absorbed a couple of hits despite winning.

    The critics skewered Hagler for his overly respectful showing against an out-sized, out-gunned but rejuvenated Duran that ended in a much closer decision than the action indicated.

    Then he struggled in the early rounds against Juan Domingo Roldan before either a right hand or a thumb caused Roldan’s eye to slam shut and his competitive will to wilt.

    Hagler’s three-round stoppage of a faded Mustafa Hamsho in their rematch proved little to his antagonists; he knew that the Hearns fight represented his last and best chance to stamp himself as worthy of being labeled one of history’s greatest middleweight champions.

    For a man who already sported a chip on his shoulder the size of the Caesars Palace hotel building, that was even more reason to be motivated.

    A multi-city promotional tour only heightened the tensions between the combatants as they traded barbs face-to-face and in the press. They further turned the knife by predicting an early knockout.

    “Come April 15 – in three rounds – I will be the greatest,” Hearns said at the Detroit stop on January 28.

    “Tommy said I’m going to be laying down there and his hand is going to be raised,” Hagler said the next day in St. Louis. “I feel almost the same way but when the smoke clears – because I’m coming out smokin’ – it’ll be my hands that’s going to be raised.”

    The contrast carried over to their training camps as Hagler voluntarily imprisoned himself in the “jail” of Provincetown, Mass., before traveling to Palm Springs to conduct workouts that were closed to the public.

    Hearns, who traditionally trained out of the Kronk Gym in Detroit, instead began work at Miami Beach before moving directly to Las Vegas. He was uncharacteristically loose during his public workouts and one session was highlighted by a female dance troupe that entertained the fans during a break.

    The 30-year-old Hagler (60-2-2, 50 KO), who had not lost a fight in nine years, weighed a rock-hard 159 ¼ while the 26-year-old Hearns (40-1, 34 KO) tipped the scale at a surprisingly heavy 159 ¾. His 78-inch reach was three inches longer than Hagler’s and many insiders thought he would use it to keep Hagler at a distance.

    The historic nature of Hagler-Hearns could be seen at ringside, as middleweight greats Sugar Ray Robinson, Gene Fullmer, Carmen Basilio and Jake LaMotta were present. Curt Gowdy emceed the closed-circuit broadcast while a pair of Als – Michaels and Bernstein – handled the PPV blow-by-blow. HBO’s Barry Tompkins, Larry Merchant and Sugar Ray Leonard worked the network’s delayed broadcast. Hagler remained the 7-5 favorite despite a late rush of Hearns money from his loyal Detroit fans.

    As “Tonight Show” bandleader Doc Severinsen played the national anthem and the worlds largest flag was draped from the top of the Caesar Palace hotel building, Hagler smoldered with intensity as he fixed a laser-like glare on Hearns. “The Hitman” fired his own baleful look at Hagler during referee Richard Steele’s final instructions, and when the pair retreated to their corners the moment that had been three years in the making was finally here.

    Hagler bolted from his corner behind a sweeping right that whizzed over Hearns’ head and a short left to the body as Hearns circled away. Hearns’ jabs fell short as Hagler fired another southpaw left to the stomach. A robust right hook over the top nailed Hearns, but he instantly responded with a cracking right cross to the chin that not only stunned Hagler for the briefest of moments but also ignited a firefight for the ages.

    With his back to the ropes, Hearns frenetically whaled away with both hands as Hagler tried to recover from the hammer he had just absorbed. A torrid right uppercut to the jaw forced Hagler to take a reluctant step back before slapping on a half-hearted clinch. Once Steele parted them Hagler stepped in with a flush left cross to the chin that stung Hearns into action. Hearns missed with three power shots but connected with a right cross as Hagler landed a left to the belt line.

    The punches came fast, furious and ferociously and the crowd roared with every landed blow. Hearns ripped a right-left to the body as Hagler whipped over two wicked hooks to the face. Then came a Hearns left uppercut that brought an overhand right from the champion.

    In just 60 seconds the fight had already exceeded the lofty expectations because it is exceedingly rare for two elite fighters to tear into each other with such feral wrath. All of the weeks of pent-up fury came spilling out in a symphony of violence that escalated at a breathtaking pace:

    “You’re going to knock me out in three rounds, Tommy?” Wham!

    “You’re going to knock me out in three rounds, Marvin?” Boom!

    “I’m shaking like a leaf on a tree, Tommy?” Blam!

    “You’re going to chop me down and say ‘timber,’ Marvin?” Whoom!

    “I’m a midget, Tommy?” Take this!

    “I’m a freak, Marvin?” Taste that!

    Each man was exacting his pound of flesh, much to the delight of the 15,141 at ringside and the 1.2 million jammed into closed-circuit outlets.

    It didn’t matter that the fight was scheduled for 12 rounds and it looked like judges Harry Gibbs, Herb Santos and Dick Young were the most superfluous men in the building. Hagler and Hearns were their own judges, juries and hopefully executioners.

    The frantic pace had already taken a frightful toll on Hearns’ anatomy, for his legs were already rubbery and his fearsome but fragile right hand was fractured by Hagler’s shaved dome. Hearns continued to land the right, but he no longer put his full weight behind them. Meanwhile, Hagler walked through those rights with ease and was eager to seize every opportunity to unload.

    Still, Hearns got in enough punches to raise a small swelling under Hagler’s eye and later opened a cut on the champion’s forehead that bled copiously. The angled gash added another plot twist to an already melodramatic opening round. Heartened by the sight of Hagler’s blood, Hearns shot in a pair of right uppercuts and a right cross that sent a spray of crimson several feet.

    Undaunted, Hagler landed scorching hooks to the head and body and worked in several fierce rights as Hearns swayed his torso along the ropes. Hearns tried to fight his way off the ropes but Hagler’s superior strength and lower center of gravity kept Hearns right where he was. Hearns missed with right after right as Hagler peppered him with short, crisp blows.

    Finally, with 13 seconds to go, two hammering rights allowed Hearns to escape the ropes but another long right sent Hearns tottering several feet backward. However, his right-left to the face was the final salvo of a sensational opening round. At the bell each man looked over his shoulder and fired a glare at his rival as if neither one was quite ready to cease their war, however temporarily.

    “That was an entire fight encompassed in three minutes,” Michaels declared.

    “Perhaps one of the best in middleweight history,” Bernstein agreed.

    The opening round’s shocking intensity served to electrify the crowd. Some yelled themselves hoarse while others jumped up and down as if they had received a vicarious infusion of energy. It was everything they could have hoped for and more than they had a right to expect.

    It was one of those incredibly special events that prompted a person’s brain to take an instant snapshot of their surroundings so that they could reflect back and savor it for years to come. Only the sound of the second round bell had the power to interrupt that process, for no one could afford to miss even a single split-second of what was to come.

    Hagler started the round with a jolting left to the face of Hearns, who was now doing what trainer Emanuel Steward called “leg boxing.” This was the strategy that allowed Hearns to build a late-rounds lead on Leonard after taking a pounding in rounds six and seven and by doing this Hearns was conceding that Hagler, the natural middleweight, was indeed the stronger man.

    Hearns picked his spots well as he dug hooks to the belly and pivoted to the side. A Hagler right hook to the top of the head brought a taunting smile – and a pelting left hook – from Hearns. Despite his show of strength, Hearns’ shaky legs revealed his true state to all – most of all Hagler. When he tried to pivot hard to his left he stutter-stepped halfway across the ring before he could manage to right himself.

    Hagler walked through a right hand to land his own cuffing hook followed by a stiff right moments later. The difference in power and strength was graphically evident, for every punch Hearns landed merely bounced off Hagler’s anatomy while the champion’s every blow shook Hearns to his core. Hagler’s snappy, straight-from-the-shoulder punches shredded Hearns’ defense while Hearns’ offerings no longer had the power that had made him such a mortal threat to Hagler’s title.

    As the round wound into its final minute Hearns’ blows looked ragged and disorganized and his balance awkward and splay-legged. But he got in enough punches to spread the blood all over Hagler’s face, which only angered the beast even more.

    With 30 seconds remaining, Hagler easily punched his way out of an attempted Hearns clinch with three sweeping hooks and a fourth crashed against the jaw seconds later. That punch sparked another torrent of power shots that only weakened Hearns further. Only Hearns’ instincts and giant fighting heart kept him upright and at the bell a smiling Hearns again stared ruefully at his tormentor as each walked toward his respective corner.

    “Keep your hands up close,” Steward told Hearns. “You’re out-boxing the man out there. Try on working on letting him miss with the left and going over here on the incoming and then land with the right. Just box him, stay away and box him. Just get your second wind and relax like Milton (McCrory) did against Colin Jones. When you get through with your shots, just move off to one side or the other (because) you’re getting hit on the tail end of punches.”

    Hearns started the third well as he landed a pair of light rights to the face that brought a counter right from Hagler. The challenger’s piercing jabs and right-lefts strafed Hagler’s face and aggravated the cut on the forehead to the point where Steele called a time out to have ringside physician Dr. Donald Romeo examine the cut.

    The crowd howled in surprise at this turn of events because they sensed the possibility that the title could somehow change hands.

    Following the briefest of examinations, Dr. Romeo put that speculation to rest.

    “No, it’s not bothering his sight,” he said. “Let him go.”

    Fearing his precious titles were in jeopardy, Hagler shifted into overdrive. A stiff jab and a booming right rocked Hearns to his very foundations and a snappy right jerked the challenger’s head. Following Steward's instructions, Hearns wheeled off to his right and poked out a lazy jab.

    At this, Hagler sprung up from a semi-crouch and blasted a wide-arcing overhand right to the temple that instantly turned Hearns’ legs to rubber. As Hearns loped away toward ring center Hagler gave chase, landed a second right, whiffed on a home run hook and unloaded a crushing right to the side of the face. The effects of Hagler’s punch acted like a time-release capsule; Hearns first fell onto Hagler’s shoulder, then slid down his body in slow motion before hitting the floor with a thud.

    Lying flat on his back with unseeing eyes aimed at the ring lights, Hearns looked all but out. Drawing on reserves only the great champions can access, the challenger stirred at Steele’s count of six and somehow lifted himself upright by nine. But Hearns couldn’t clear the final hurdle as his body weaved from side to side and his eyes had a semi-conscious glaze. Steele correctly waved off the fight and just as he predicted Hagler raised his arms as a winner at 2:01 of round three.

    This was the ultimate moment of triumph for Hagler and this time he was greeted with thunderous cheers instead of bottles of beer. For Hearns it was a shattering loss that would, along the with the Leonard result, overshadow his many triumphs. The sight of Hearns being carried to his corner was evidence of the toll Hagler’s attack – and his own efforts to win the fight – had taken on his body.

    “This is one of my toughest fights,” Hagler, the master of understatement, told Bernstein. “I told you I was going to eat him up like Pac Man. I figured once I got through the right hand that he was all mine. I wanted to show the world I am the greatest. I figured I had to take punches in order to give some but I told you he was going to get some, too.

    Later, when he was asked about how the cut affected him, Hagler uttered a defining line: “Once I see the blood I turned into the bull. I had to get serious and get it done quicker.”

    As for Hearns, a major point of contention was why he engaged Hagler in a slugfest. His answer: He had no other choice.

    “The reason I started out punching was that Marvin started coming in and I had to show Marvin I deserved some respect,” Hearns said.

    Ever the gentleman, “The Hitman” gave the champion his due.

    “A man doesn’t hold the title for (five) years for nothing,” he said. “He showed me he is a great champion.”

    Both men were well compensated for their efforts. Hagler was guaranteed $5.6 million and 45 percent of the gross over $14 million while Hearns was paid $5.4 million and 35 percent of the gross over $14 million. With the fight grossing $20 million – third all-time behind Holmes-Cooney’s $22 million and the $20.5 million tally that came with Leonard-Hearns I – that meant Hagler cleared $8.3 million to Hearns’ $7.5 million.

    Those who staged the show also enjoyed a financial bonanza. The fight drew 15,141 and produced a live gate of $4,589,400. The 1.2 million closed-circuit customer total was second all-time to the 1.6 million who saw the first Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali bout.

    At long last, Hagler had achieved the mainstream acclaim that he felt should have been his all along. He worked the talk show circuit and secured commercial endorsements from Gillette and, most notably, Pizza Hut, for which he did several commercials. In the most famous one, he takes a bite of pizza and said – obviously in reference to Hearns – “I wonder what what’s-his-name is having for dinner? Probably soup.”

    Ring magazine named Hagler-Hearns 1985’s Fight of the Year and the opening frame as its Round of the Year. Years later, the publication would declare the first round the greatest single round ever fought.

    A rematch was ostensibly set after Hagler stopped John Mugabi in 11 rounds and Hearns wiped out James Shuler in a single round, but that all went away the moment Leonard told the world he wanted to come out of a nearly three-year retirement to challenge Hagler for his title. After Leonard won a split decision hailed by some and disputed by others, an embittered Hagler walked away from boxing for good.

    Hearns got his chance at redemption in June 1989 and many thought he got it after scoring knockdowns in rounds three and 11, but the judges thought differently and scored their magnificent second act a draw. Leonard conceded years later that Hearns deserved to win but that did nothing to change the record book.

    What the record book – and those who witnessed those eight Marvelous minutes – will say without reservation is that the night of April 15, 1985 will forever stand as a landmark day in boxing history.

    The fight showed beyond doubt why the middleweight division is held in such high esteem by fans and historians alike. The speed of the lighter men and the punching power of the heavyweights converged in the most spectacular manner possible and the result was a gloriously violent monument to boxing’s greatness.

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler

    BORN May 23 1954; Newark, New Jersey (Fought out of Brockton, Massachusetts)
    HEIGHT 5-9
    WEIGHT 155-163 lbs
    MANAGERS Goody and Pat Petronelli
    RECORD 62-3-2 (52 KO)


    Hagler was one of the best middleweight fighters of recent years and an All-Time great; He was a hard hitting left-hander who was capable of adapting his style, if need be, to overcome his opposition; In addition, he was never knocked out during his career

    The quality of his opposition has been challenged by some but, nevertheless, he was one of the best middleweights ever; Marvin experienced but three loses during his career; His most impressive wins came against Thomas Hearns, Bennie Briscoe, Roberto Duran and John Mugabi; As champion, he defended the title successfully 12 times

    Herb Goldman ranked Hagler as the #3 All-Time Middleweight; Marvin was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993

    1973
    May 18 Terry Ryan Brockton, Ma KO 2
    Jul 25 Sonny Williams Boston, Ma W 6
    Aug 8 Muhammed Smith Boston, Ma KO 2
    Oct 6 Dornell Wigfall Brockton, Ma W 8
    Oct 26 Cove Green Brockton, Ma TK 4
    Nov 17 Cocoa Kid Brockton, Ma KO 2
    Dec 6 Manny Freitas Portland, Me KO 1
    Dec 18 James Redford Boston, Ma KO 4

    1974
    Feb 5 Bob Harrington Boston, Ma KO 5
    Apr 5 Tracy Morrison Boston, Ma TK 8
    May 4 James Redford Brockton, Ma TK 2
    May 30 Curtis Phillips Portland, Me KO 5
    Jul 16 Bobby Williams Boston, Ma TK 3
    Aug 13 Peachy Davis New Bedford, Ma KO 1
    Aug 30 "Sugar" Ray Seales Boston, Ma W 10
    Oct 29 Morris Jordan Brockton, Ma TK 4
    Nov 16 George Green Brockton, Ma KO 1
    Nov 26 "Sugar" Ray Seales Seattle, Wa D 10
    Dec 20 D.C. Walker Boston, Ma KO 2

    1975
    Feb 15 Dornell Wigfall Brockton, Ma KO 5
    Mar 31 Joey Blair Boston, Ma KO 2
    Apr 14 Jimmy Owens Boston, Ma W 10
    May 24 Jimmy Owens Brockton, Ma WF 6
    Aug 7 Jesse Bender Portland, Me KO 1
    Sep 30 Lamont Lovelady Boston, Ma TK 7
    Dec 20 Johnny Baldwin Boston, Ma W 10

    1976
    Jan 13 Bobby Watts Philadelphia, Pa L 10
    Feb 7 Matt Donovan Boston, Ma TK 2
    Mar 9 Willie Monroe Philadelphia, Pa L 10
    Jun 2 Bob Smith Taunton, Ma TK 5
    Aug 3 DC Walker Providence, RI KO 6
    Sep 14 Eugene Hart Philadelphia, Pa TK 9
    Dec 21 George Davis Boston, Ma TK 6

    1977
    Feb 15 Willie Monroe Boston, Ma TK 12
    Mar 16 Reggie Ford Boston, Ma KO 3
    Jun 10 Roy Jones Hartford, Ct TK 3
    Aug 23 Willie Monroe Philadelphia, Pa TK 2
    Sep 24 Ray Phillips Boston, Ma TK 7
    Oct 15 Jim Henry Providence, RI W 10
    Nov 26 Mike Colbert Boston, Ma KO 12

    1978
    Mar 4 Kevin Finnegan Boston, Ma TK 9
    Apr 7 Doug Demmings Los Angeles, Ca TK 8
    May 13 Kevin Finnegan Boston, Ma TK 7
    Aug 24 Bennie Briscoe Philadelphia, Pa W 10
    Nov 11 Willie Warren Boston, Ma TK 7

    1979
    Feb 3 "Sugar" Ray Seales Boston, Ma TK 1
    Mar 12 Bob Patterson Providence, RI TK 3
    May 26 Jamie Thomas Portland, Me KO 3
    Jun 30 Norberto Rufino Cabrera Monte Carlo, Mon TK 8
    Nov 30 Vito Antuofermo Las Vegas, Nv D 15
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World

    1980
    Feb 16 Loucif Hamani Portland, Me KO 2
    Apr 19 Bobby Watts Portland, Me TK 2
    May 17 Marcos Geraldo Las Vegas, Nv W 10
    Sep 27 Alan Minter London, Eng TK 3
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World

    1981
    Jan 17 Fulgencio Obelmejias Boston, Ma TK 8
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World
    Jun 13 Vito Antuofermo Boston, Ma TK 5
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World
    Oct 3 Mustafa Hamsho Rosemont, Il TK 11
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World

    1982
    Mar 7 William "Caveman" Lee Atlantic City, NJ TK 1
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World
    Oct 30 Fulgencio Obelmejias San Remo, It TK 5
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World

    1983
    Feb 11 Tony Sibson Worcester, Ma TK 6
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World
    May 27 Wilford Scypion Providence, RI KO 4
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World
    Nov 10 Roberto Duran Las Vegas, Nv W 15
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World

    1984
    Mar 30 Juan Domingo Roldan Las Vegas, Nv TK 10
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World
    Oct 19 Mustafa Hamsho New York, NY TK 3
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World

    1985
    Apr 15 Thomas Hearns Las Vegas, Nv TK 3
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World

    1986
    Mar 10 John Mugabi Las Vegas, Nv KO 11
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World

    1987
    Apr 6 "Sugar" Ray Leonard Las Vegas, Nv L 12
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World

    Record courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns
    (the "Motor City Cobra")

    BORN October 18 1958; Memphis, Tennessee (Fought out of Detroit, Michigan)
    HEIGHT 6-1
    WEIGHT 144-191 lbs
    MANAGER Thomas Hearns
    RECORD 61-5-1 (48 KO)


    Hearns was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in recent years and an All-Time great; He was tall and lean with a sharp, stinging jab and explosive, fierce blows with each fist; His talented hitting prowess enabled him to move up in weight class over the years, from welterweight up through cruiserweight; Thomas won titles in six modern weight classes

    His most impressive wins came against Virgil Hill, Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez, "Pipino" Cuevas, Murray Sutherland, Randy Shields, Eddie Gazo, Clyde Gray and Bruce Finch

    Herb Goldman ranked Hearns as the #3 All-Time Welterweight; Thomas is destined to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible

    1977
    Nov 25 Jerome Hill Detroit, Mi KO 2
    Dec 7 Jerry Strickland Mount Clemens, Mi KO 3
    Dec 16 Willie Wren Detroit, Mi KO 3

    1978
    Jan 29 Anthony House Knoxville, Tn KO 2
    Feb 10 Robert Adams Detroit, Mi KO 3
    Feb 17 Billy Goodwin Saginaw, Mi TK 2
    Mar 17 Ray Fields Detroit, Mi TK 2
    Mar 31 Tyrone Phelps Saginaw, Mi KO 3
    Jun 8 Jimmy Rothwell Detroit, Mi KO 1
    Jul 20 Raul Aguirre Detroit, Mi KO 3
    Aug 3 Eddie Marcelle Detroit, Mi KO 2
    Sep 7 Bruce Finch Detroit, Mi KO 3
    Oct 26 Pedro Rojas Detroit, Mi TK 1
    Dec 9 Rudy Barro Detroit, Mi KO 4

    1979
    Jan 13 Clyde Gray Detroit, Mi TK 10
    Jan 31 Sammy Ruckard Saginaw, Mi TK 8
    Mar 3 Segundo Murillo Detroit, Mi TK 8
    Apr 3 Alfonso Hayman Philadelphia, Pa W 10
    May 20 Harold Weston Las Vegas, Nv TK 6
    Jun 28 Bruce Curry Detroit, Mi KO 3
    Aug 23 Inocencio De la Rosa Detroit, Mi TK 2
    Sep 22 Jose Figueroa Los Angeles, Ca KO 3
    Oct 18 Saensak Muangsurin Detroit, Mi TK 3
    Nov 30 Mike Colbert New Orleans, La W 10

    1980
    Feb 3 "Fighting" Jim Richards Las Vegas, Nv KO 3
    Mar 2 Angel Espada Detroit, Mi TK 4
    -USBA Welterweight Championship
    Mar 31 Santiago Valdez Las Vegas, Nv TK 1
    May 3 Eddie Gazo Detroit, Mi KO 1
    Aug 2 Jose "Pipino" Cuevas Detroit, Mi TK 2
    -WBA Welterweight Championship of the World
    Dec 6 Luis Primera Detroit, Mi KO 6
    -WBA Welterweight Championship of the World

    1981
    Apr 25 Randy Shields Phoenix, Az TK 12
    -WBA Welterweight Championship of the World
    Jun 25 Pablo Baez Houston, Tx TK 4
    -WBA Welterweight Championship of the World
    Sep 16 "Sugar" Ray Leonard Las Vegas, Nv LT 14
    -WBC Welterweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Welterweight Championship of the World
    Dec 11 Ernie Singletary Nassau, Bahamas W 10

    1982
    Feb 27 Marcos Geraldo Las Vegas, Nv KO 1
    Jul 25 Jeff McCracken Detroit, Mi TK 8
    Dec 3 Wilfred Benitez New Orleans, La W 15
    -WBC Light Middleweight Championship of the World

    1983
    Jul 10 Murray Sutherland Atlantic City, NJ W 10

    1984
    Feb 11 Luigi Minchillo Detroit, Mi W 12
    -WBC Light Middleweight Championship of the World
    Jun 15 Roberto Duran Las Vegas, Nv TK 2
    -WBC Light Middleweight Championship of the World
    Sep 15 Fred Hutchings Saginaw, Mi TK 3
    -WBC Light Middleweight Championship of the World

    1985
    Apr 15 Marvin Hagler Las Vegas, Nv LT 3
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBA Middleweight Championship of the World;
    IBF Middleweight Championship of the World

    1986
    Mar 10 James Shuler Las Vegas, Nv KO 1
    -NABF Middleweight Championship
    Jun 23 Mark Medal Las Vegas, Nv TK 8
    -WBC Light Middleweight Championship of the World
    Oct 17 Doug DeWitt Detroit, Mi W 12
    -NABF Middleweight Championship

    1987
    Mar 7 Dennis Andries Detroit, Mi TK 10
    -WBC Light Heavyweight Championship of the World
    Oct 29 Juan Domingo Roldan Las Vegas, Nv KO 4
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World

    1988
    Jun 6 Iran Barkley Las Vegas, Nv LT 3
    -WBC Middleweight Championship of the World
    Nov 4 James Kinchen Las Vegas, Nv W 12
    -WBO Super Middleweight Championship of the World;
    NABF Super Middleweight Championship

    1989
    Jun 12 "Sugar" Ray Leonard Las Vegas, Nv D 12
    -WBC Super Middleweight Championship of the World;
    WBO Super Middleweight Championship of the World

    1990
    Apr 28 Michael Olajide Atlantic City, NJ W 12
    -WBO Super Middleweight Championship of the World

    1991
    Feb 11 Kemper Morton Inglewood, Ca KO 2
    Apr 6 Ken Atkins Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 3
    Jun 3 Virgil Hill Las Vegas, Nv W 12
    -WBA Light Heavyweight Championship of the World

    1992
    Mar 20 Iran Barkley Las Vegas, Nv L 12
    -WBA Light Heavyweight Championship of the World

    1993
    Nov 6 Andrew Maynard Las Vegas, Nv KO 1

    1994
    Jan 29 Dan Ward Las Vegas, Nv KO 1
    -NABF Cruiserweight Championship
    Feb 19 Freddie Delgado Charlotte, NC W 12
    -NABF Cruiserweight Championship

    1995
    Mar 31 Lenny LaPaglia Detroit, Mi TK 1
    -WBU Cruiserweight Championship of the World
    Sep 26 Earl Butler Auburn Hills, Mi W 10

    1996
    Nov 29 Karl Willis Roanoke, Va KO 5

    1997
    Jan 31 Ed Dalton Inglewood, Ca KO 5

    1998
    Nov 6 Jay Snyder Detroit, Mi KO 1

    1999
    Apr 10 Nate Miller Manchester, Eng W 12
    -IBO Cruiserweight Championship of the World

    2000
    Mar 25 Crawford Ashley Detroit, Mi SCH
    -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
    Apr 8 Uriah Grant Detroit, Mi LT 2
    -IBO Cruiserweight Championship of the World

    2005
    Jul 30 John Long Detroit, Mi TK 9

    2006
    Feb 4 Shannon Landberg Auburn Hills, Mi TK 10

    Record courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    Great war. Do any of you all think that if Hearns had employed a strategy to work behind the jab, that he would have been able to beat hagler. Or do you think that the hagler of 4/6/87 would not be beaten that night?

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    25 years ago

    WOW.

    I was 18 years old and thought I knew everything.

    Floor seats at the RPI field house in Troy NY to see the closed circuit Telecast.

    Vivid, vivid memories about that entire day and evening.

    Sulked like a bastich all the way home. Little did I know then, that it would be infinitely worse for me in 5 Months. Almost chucked the whole thing then.

    Graduated from high school, in 1985. But from a sports perspective, 1985 was a tough year for me. Specifically from a boxing standpoint.

    Hawk

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    I hear a lot of people say that if Hearns had boxed that night he would have won.

    Well, Hearns did try to box from rd 2 on and couldn't avoid Marvin.

    Hearns hadn't the elusive lateral foot speed to avoid Hagler, nor the phone booth defensive skills to trade close.

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    Quote Originally Posted by walshb
    I hear a lot of people say that if Hearns had boxed that night he would have won.

    Well, Hearns did try to box from rd 2 on and couldn't avoid Marvin.

    Hearns hadn't the elusive lateral foot speed to avoid Hagler, nor the phone booth defensive skills to trade close.
    Good points. I do think that Tommy could have tried to jab and move a bit more, and tied up in stead of exchange when he got in trouble. But that is like telling Jordan to never go to the hole when he plays, Tommy is going to war, with you, that is what he does, that is what made him great. This was a great fight, regardless of who won. Tommy go a lot points for this fight.

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    Hagler should buy Tommy a cold beer every time he runs into him. Tommy was Hagler's Joe Frazier in the sense that he provided the opposition to seal Hagler's legacy. I think every true boxing fan remembers where he was and who he was with watching history that evening. What a match!

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    Quote Originally Posted by Punchdrunk
    Hagler should buy Tommy a cold beer every time he runs into him. Tommy was Hagler's Joe Frazier in the sense that he provided the opposition to seal Hagler's legacy. I think every true boxing fan remembers where he was and who he was with watching history that evening. What a match!
    My understamding is that Hagler and Hearns get on quite well these days and have a lot of respect for each other. I few years ago there was in Boxing News(?) an interview with Hagler and on the topic of the Hitman Hagler said something like "I love Tommy he is a real gentleman, total class".

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    Tommy's personality

    is such that he could get along with any fighter that he faced. Whether he beat them or they beat him.

    Hagler's is a bit more complex.

    There was a story I had read about how Marvin in early to mid 1983 was talking and laughing with Roberto Duran as though the two were long lost chums. ANd then something was introduced to their conversation about Duran being a POTENTIAL Opponent for Hagler. As SOON as that was mentioned, Hagler turned INSTANTLY Cold to Duran. Didn't even want to be near him.

    Once He faced and defeated Duran, Hagler was back to being openly friendly with Roberto.

    During the prefight buildup for the Hearns fight, Hagler OPENLY despised Tommy. And often spoke about what a sissy he was for backing out of thier originally scheduled meeting back in 1982.

    But ONCE he beat Tommy, he was as openly warm to Tommy as could be.

    I think Marvin needed that sense of superiority over a fighter he met in the ring in order to be friendly towards him.

    We know he still can't stand Ray Leonard. But If he HAD beaten Ray, I bet he'd embrace SRL as well.

    Now I do understand, that Hagler has said it's becuase he felt he was robbed. But I do also feel that if Hagler had felt the decision agianst him was just, that he'd hate Leonard just the same. I base this on how Hagler treated all his other foes up and until he beat them.

    Without that sense of superiority, I am not sure Hagler would ever be able to be friendly towards a former opponent.

    Hawk

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    Re: 25 Years Later: Hagler vs. Hearns Remembered

    Hagler-Hearns Eight Minutes of Fury
    By Joe Carnicelli from Max Boxing


    The flight from Burbank to Las Vegas took about 40 minutes and the Caesars Palace limo was waiting for us when we landed. It had been a long day and we all were hoping to get to our rooms and get some rest. That was not to be the case.

    The limo wheeled around the huge circular driveway in front of Caesars and as we pulled up to the main entrance, we saw about 2,000 people massed near the main doors. A band struck up as Marvin exited the limo and we were met by the corps of body-builders who work as the Caesar Palace "Gladiators". Bob Arum was there to greet us, along with a number of Caesars World dignitaries. We walked into the lobby and there was a media area and a number of television cameras set up and suddenly, Marvin was in the middle of an impromptu new conference. He wasn’t too happy about it.



    "You didn’t tell me about this," he muttered to me. "I’m sorry but nobody told me about this either," I answered and he nodded. "That’s okay, let’s try to get through this as quick as possible so I can get to my room."

    After about a 30-minute session, Caesars security took us to Marvin’s suite. He asked for one he had used in the past, on the ground floor near the rear of the casino. Unlike Hearns, who liked strolling though the casino with his entourage and dropping a few coins here and there at the tables, Marvin like the fact that he could come and go out through a secluded back entrance without drawing any attention. Pat would pull up our rented station wagon near the door and Marvin could zip off to training totally unnoticed.

    After eight weeks in Palm Springs, Marvin wanted the feel and smell of a boxing gym for the final few days of training and he decided to use Johnny Tocco’s gym. This was the old Johnny Tocco’s and it was like something you would expect to see in the opening scenes of the original "Rocky". It was beyond old and rundown. A number of top boxers did their final training there in order to get into a fighting frame of mind. The odor in the place was making me nauseous and I soon found out why. I needed to use the toilet and Johnny Tocco, a round man with a gruff voice, pointed me over to a wall where a urinal was mounted. As I walked up to take care of my business, the stench became ever more offensive. I quickly saw that there was no plumbing in the urinal, only a large hole in the middle, and all deposits went directly to a large bucket underneath.

    "Joe, dump out that bucket will you," Marvin yelled over and I reacted with a look of astonishment. "He and Pat broke out laughing at this point and Boogaloo said he wished he had a camera to record the look on my face. "We just wanted to see your reaction," said Pat. "You can pee in peace now." I elected to wait until I got back to the hotel.

    The last few training days were for fine tuning Marvin’s new style. Media were not allowed to watch and the only visitors were a few Hollywood types who stopped in for a few minutes. The foul smell kept visits very short.

    Pat and Goody told me that Marvin tended to become irritable in the last few days leading up to a fight and that if he snapped at me for some reason, not to take it personally. He was just getting into fighting mode. But I really didn’t notice any mood swing those last few days. Actually, I thought Marvin was getting more and more confident as he worked through his final sessions with Jerry and Boogaloo.

    The last session at Tocco’s, thankfully, was two nights before the fight and when it was over, Marvin got us all together and had Angie Carlino, a photographer from the Boston area who had chronicled much of Marvin’s career, take a group photo. Angie, who had spent quite a bit of time with us in Palm Springs and Las Vegas and pretty much was the official photographer for the Hagler camp, later presented me with a copy of the group shot autographed by Marvin.

    Afterward, we piled into the station wagon and headed back to Caesars only to find ourselves in the middle of a traffic jam. Marvin and I were seated in the back seat and listened as a couple of sportscasters analyzed the upcoming fight on the radio. Their opinion was that Hearns would bust up Marvin with his superior reach and height advantage and probably win late on cuts.

    Marvin shook his head and leaned over toward me.

    "You know what’s going to happen?," he said. "Sometime early in the fight, Tommy’s gonna land that big right hand of his right on my beard. If I can’t handle it, he’s gonna knock me out. But if I can take it, I’m gonna bust up his ass and do it quick."

    In retrospect, Marvin was prophetic and that turned out to be the key to the fight.

    We took care of our final media obligations and after Marvin, Pat and Goody headed back to Marvin’s suite, I went to a staff meeting to discuss final preparations. Jay Edson, the former world class referee who was serving as the fight coordinator for Top Rank, called me over at the end of the meeting. Jay, who passed away a couple of years ago and was one of my favorite people in boxing, put his arm around my shoulder and repeated something he had told me at least a dozen times.

    "Joe, make sure you get Marvin out of the dressing room when you get the call from us," he said. "I’ve worked with him in the past and he likes to play games and make his opponent wait in the ring. We can’t do that tonight. There are satellite time considerations and a lot of foreign deals involved and we have to stick to a strict schedule to get this fight started. It’s got to go off in a certain window of time. Don’t make me have to come back there and start screaming at you guys to start your ring walk."

    "As soon as you give me the word, Marvin will start walking," I told Jay, with fingers crossed on both hands.

    The fight was to take place in a specially constructed arena in the rear parking lot at Caesars. We were assigned adjoining dressing rooms in the permanent indoor arena. I got there about three hours before fight time to make sure everything was in order. Hearns’ group came in first and it looked as if half of Detroit was going into his dressing room. It was a wild scene and you could hear the commotion through the wall in Marvin’s dressing room. Marvin came into the dressing room a short while later with his usual sparse group. He wore his hat emblazoned with "WAR" when he came in and Goody was carrying Marvin’s favorite blue trunks and robe. Pat was right behind along with Robbie Sims, Marvin’s brother who was becoming a top ranked middleweight himself, and two young former Brockton policemen who were now with the Las Vegas Police Department and moonlighting as Marvin’s security.

    The chanting in Hearns’ dressing room seemed to be getting louder and louder and was drowning out the music on Marvin’s boombox. Marvin seemed oblivious as he began his warmups. It was eerily quiet in the Hagler dressing room, a stark contrast to what was going on next door.

    I walked out to ringside to kill some time and saw two friends, Logan Hobson and Bob Canobbio, who had just founded CompuBox to track punches during fights. I had hired Logan when I was at UPI and had started him out covering some boxing when I began to get bogged with administrative duties. We chatted briefly about the fight.

    "It doesn’t look good for your guy," Logan said shaking his head. "Hearns is just too big for him. I really can’t see Marvin beating him."

    "There might be a surprise for you tonight, Logie," I answered. "Watch out for the overhand right."

    He gave me a puzzled look as I walked away and said "Right?"

    "Overhand right," I repeated as I headed back inside.

    As the final prelim was wrapping up, I left the dressing room to wait for Jay Edson’s signal on my walkie-talkie. Jerry and Boogaloo joined me and Robbie Sims came out a short while later. I looked at my watch and could see it was almost time.

    I heard Jay call for Hearns to start walking. The door to his dressing room opened and it was reminiscent of the subway at Grand Central at rush hour. People came swarming out chanting and screaming and our group was basically shoved back against the wall as the Hearns entourage went by. Billy Hearns, Tommy’s younger brother, loved to talk trash and he had a few choice words for us as they went by. Robbie, who was usually pretty laid-back, took offense and we almost had another unscheduled prelim in the hallway before they were pulled apart. When the Hearns group was gone and I could hear the sound of the University of Michigan fight song as he entered the arena, I cracked open the dressing room door and announced to no one in particular that Hearns was on his way in and we would get called in less than 10 minutes. Marvin was shadow-boxing intently and didn’t respond. Goody nodded and said, "we’re good".

    I was breaking into a cold sweat knowing the situation could get ugly if Marvin didn’t respond when Jay called. A few minutes later, I heard Jay’s voice crackling on the walkie-talkie telling me to start the walk. I leaned in and announced, "it’s time" and thankfully, Marvin wrapped up his shadow-boxing and walked toward Goody, who was holding his robe. Marvin put it on and everyone started moving toward the door and I radioed Jay that we were on our way. I then let out one major sigh of relief.

    Marvin followed Pat and Goody out the dressing room door and simply muttered one last time, "Comin’ at ’ya, Hearns, comin’ at’ ya."

    I had covered quite a few Super Bowls, world title fights and World Series and I often wondered how an athlete felt coming out of the tunnel on to the field, walking to the ring or leaving the dugout. I got a bit of an answer a couple of minutes later as we left the building and walked outside toward the ring. I was walking just ahead of the main group and as we came in view of the crowd, I heard Marvin’s walkout music, "Stars and Stripes Forever" start up on the loudspeaker and a deafening roar greeted us. The hair on my arms stood almost straight up. I walked as far as the steps to the ring and waited until Marvin and the Petronellis were up before walking along the ring to my seat in the corner.

    In a few minutes, the pre-fight formalities were done and after what seemed like a lifetime of media tours and training camp, it was finally time to fight. I looked across the ring and could see an almost evil sneer on Hearns’ face. Marvin pounded his own face with both gloves to get ready for contact as referee Richard Steele checked the judges before signaling for the opening bell.

    If anyone was expecting a tactical boxing match, it took all of about two seconds to dispel that notion. Marvin bolted out of his corner and fired a wild right hand and then attacked Hearns’ body, driving him back into the ropes. They traded punches furiously for about 30 seconds as Hagler attempted to get to Hearns’ vulnerable body. At that point, the prophetic statement Marvin made in the back of the station wagon two nights earlier came to fruition.

    Hearns unleashed a tremendous right hand that caught Marvin flush in the face and I looked up and saw his knees quiver slightly. I thought Marvin was in big trouble as he tied up Hearns but suddenly he began punching back and rocked Hearns with a right hand of his own. Two of the top boxers in the world spent most of the first round trading bombs and as the final bell sounded for what many consider to be the greatest round in championship boxing history, there was a trickle blood on Marvin’s forehead and Hearns had a very worried look on his face. He had landed his mighty right hand bomb and Hagler not only withstood it, he seemed to be encouraged by it.

    The CompuBox statistics for that round supported Marvin’s plan to turn the fight into a war of attrition. Hagler, one of the greatest pure boxers in middleweight history, threw 82 punches in that opening round, all of them power shots, and landed 50. He did not throw one single jab.

    Hearns apparently was read by riot act by trainer Emanuel Steward in his corner because as soon as the bell rang for the second round, he established distance and began to work his long left jab. Hearns was having some success but his legs seemed to be betraying him and Marvin switched back and forth from left-handed to orthodox and back and eventually worked his way inside again, where he backed Hearns to the ropes and unleashed a vicious body attack. As the bell sounded, Marvin shouted something at Hearns, who smiled and walked slowly back to his corner. I turned to Boogaloo and Jerry seated nearby and yelled, "Hearns is done. His legs are gone" and they both nodded.

    Not everyone was in agreement. While two of the judges, Harry Gibbs and Herb Santos, had Marvin up 20-18 entering the third round, the third judge, Dick Young, had Hearns winning the first two rounds.

    But Hearns wasn’t about to give in. He began firing his long jab again early in the third round as Marvin tried to work inside and about a minute into the round, there was blood streaming down Marvin’s face from a gash on his forehand. Steele suddenly halted the action and called for the ringside physician to examine the cut. The crowd started getting ugly and there was quite a bit of booing at the possibility of what was becoming a classic being stopped by a cut. But a loud cheer went up as the doctor cleared Marvin to fight.

    "I know I had to get him right then," Marvin said later. "I didn’t want to take a chance on them stopping the fight because of the cut. I knew he was fading and I knew I could get him out of there if I put the pressure on."

    Hagler looked like a miniature Jack Dempsey as he let both fists fly and Hearns was having trouble keeping up the pace. A wild overhand left caught Hearns flush on the side of the face and he stumbled back to the ropes. Marvin was switching from lefty to righty and back to lefty and was landing almost at will. Knowing he was in trouble against the ropes, Hearns tried to slide out to his right to evade Marvin’s attack only to get caught by another huge right hand high on the head. Hearns stumbled to the ropes again with Marvin almost running after him. Then came the huge overhand right that Marvin had spend so many hours perfecting in training camp. It exploded into Hearns’ face and he slumped down in a heap. Somehow, he managed to beat the count and pull himself up at nine but he was absolutely defenseless at this point and Steele stopped the fight.

    Marvin thrust both hands overhead and then punched the air repeatedly with his right hand. He had achieved the signature victory of his career.

    Minutes later, we were back in the dressing room and it was fairly subdued considering the magnitude and scope of the knockout. Marvin asked about Hearns, who was carried back to his corner by his good friend, Jim Dockery, and later had to be helped down the steps out of the ring. I told him I had seen Hearns walking, although pretty unsteadily, near his dressing room.

    We were getting ready for the post-fight news conference when to my amazement, Tommy walked through the door to congratulate Marvin. They hugged and exchanged a few words in private before Hearns said goodnight to everyone and left.

    "Tommy was saying maybe we should think about doing this again. Think of all the money we could make," Marvin said. "I just said I don’t know about that."

    Hagler-Hearns was voted Fight of the Year in a landslide and Round One was honored as Round of the Year. The fight is considered the most exciting eight minutes in boxing history and for me, the entire event was simply the experience of a lifetime.

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