Forgotten Nights: Hagler vs Mugabi

Marvin Hagler was always up for a challenge.

After knocking out Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard still hiding in retirement, Hagler decided to take on a young, power-punching middleweight in John “the beast” Mugabi.

Hagler would stop Mugabi in the 11th round.

At the time of the knockout, I had Hagler up 96-94.

The official scorecards were similar.

Dave Moretti 96-95
Jerry Roth 97-94
Dalby Shirley 97-94

Little did we know, that it would be Hagler’s last win of his storied career.

Hagler came out in round 1 fighting as an orthodox fighter and Mugabi took advantage. The challenger was able to sit down on his punches.

Hagler would move to his customary southpaw stance as he started off the round strong but again, Mugabi would find success as Hagler kept leaning forward allowing for Mugabi to gain some distance and landing power punches.

The 3rd round was a Hagler type of round. His movement made Mugabi a lot less active and his jab found a home.

Hagler build off the 3rd round in the first half of the fourth. Hagler’s right jab found a home and he even started putting combinations together but late in the round, Mugabi would land an uppercut that seem to stun Hagler.

Fifth round saw Mugabi make little to no adjustments. He was still following Hagler around the ring trying to load up on punches as opposed to being an effective counter-puncher.

Hagler’s sixth round showed everything his fans loved about him. He was standing right in front of Mugabi hitting the challenger with power punch after the power punch. What saved Mugabi was Mills Lane inexplicably stopping the action to warn Hagler for something. It allowed Mugabi to catch his breath.

In the 7th round Hagler was warned for low blows and he continuously dug to Mugabi’s body. Again, I thought referee Mills Lane was out of line but Hagler went on to win the round.

Hagler unwrapped the right jab in round 8 and despite some good punches landed by Mugabi, the round went to Hagler.

Mugabi would rally in the 9th. The round was close enough to ask the question, what do you like more? Hagler’s jabs or Mugabi’s harder punches?

The 10th round started with Hagler making the same mistakes he made early on. Diving in off balance allowing Mugabi to land power punches. Hagler would rally in the second half of the round. What was confusing was Hagler’s decision to make this a street fight when most of the rounds he won was because of the jab.

Mugabi started off the 11th looking like a tired fighter and Hagler pounced on him. The champion kept coming forward eventually knocking out Mugabi in the 11th round.

The mistakes Hagler made in the ring paled in comparison to the mistake he made next.

Leonard was sitting ringside, and he saw a pathway to beating Hagler. Instead of Hagler, giving Hearns a rematch, he chose to fight Leonard… a fight he would lose.

That would send Hagler into retirement and the fans were cheated out of seeing Hagler-Hearns 2.

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