“People know I won that fight," Hagler wrote via email recently. “The whole world saw it. I still feel the same even though they gave the fight to Leonard. In all the history books it will always be described as 12 rounds with a “controversial’’ split decision. That tells you all!’’
SETH ABRAHAM: Marvin was the first fighter HBO did a multi-fight deal with and the only fighter that I ever allowed myself to become friends with. At ringside I scored the fight 6-6 and then I say no, that’s really wimping out. So I replay the fight in my mind, still sitting in my seat, and I score it 7-5 for Ray. The next week Marvin asked me how I had scored the fight, and I told him. He wouldn’t talk to me for a year. I wrote him notes. I called him. He wouldn’t respond. He was so angry at me. To this day, Marvin thinks he won the fight.
Reportedly, Hagler and Leonard ran into each other in the men’s room at a fight in Atlantic City not long afterward. Accounts of what were said differ.
LEE SAMUELS: I heard Ray said to Marvin, “Let’s do it again.’’ And Marvin said, “Let’s not,’’ and walked away.
LEONARD: Something did happen in a bathroom. I saw him, and I reached to shake his hand, and he walked away. And I thought, he took this shit serious.
HAGLER (via email): “I never met Leonard in a restroom! LOL – not then and not after!!’’
The bottom line was Hagler walked away not only from Leonard, but from boxing. Just 33 years old, he never fought again.
HAGLER: I just got fed up with all the politics and everything that had been happening to me in my life and my boxing career. They can’t whup me. The only way they could beat me is they had to steal it.
LEONARD: Hagler always claimed I wouldn’t give him a rematch. That’s such BS. I would have fought him the next day.
HAGLER: I had a great career. I have no complaints. There isn’t much to say besides that.
Recently, Leonard, Hagler, and referee Richard Steele found themselves together for the first time since that night in the Caesars Palace ring, at Hagler’s induction to the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
HAGLER: I see Leonard often. We talk, and we respect each other. He has his life and I have mine. We know the deal.
LEONARD: I said, "Marvin, let’s get a picture with the three of us." And Marvin said, "No, because you fucking paid him off." But I said, "No, it’s OK, he’ll raise both of our hands." So we did it, and took the picture. But it came out blurry. You can’t tell who’s who!
Thirty years after Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler met in the ring, it’s still tough to distinguish winner from loser.
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