n order to publicize the fight, promoter Bob Arum arranged a coast-to-coast media tour in select closed-circuit markets. It was a new kind of barnstorming hype—perfect for the ostentatious “Greed Is Good” 1980s—and it may have left Hagler puzzled. “I don’t know why Bob Arum keeps calling this the ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’” Hagler said. “There’s no mystery about it. I’m going to knock Thomas out.”
Never one to miss a slight—even an imaginary one—Hagler went from simmering to a roiling boil as Hearns, who had referred to Hagler as a “midget,” heckled him during the promotion. Sullen, uncooperative, and almost obsessively driven, Hagler refused to hold public workouts, arrived late to press conferences, and, finally, stopped attending publicity ops altogether. Hagler was through with the sideshow scenarios. More than anything else, however, he was through with Hearns.
“I don’t like him,” Hagler said. “That’s why I’m thinking KO, because he’s got a very big mouth and is very arrogant. I think his head is gone now. I think he’s lost all sense of reality. To tell the truth, I think boxing kinda bothers him. He’s strutting around with all kinds of body guards. Believe me, I had two weeks of that nonsense.”
For his part, Hearns, who had been virtually monosyllabic during the buildup to his showdown with Sugar Ray Leonard four years earlier, taunted Hagler with a new-found verbal prowess learned from tutors hired to improve his speech. Still, Hearns was no less blunt for having been coached in glibness. “I don’t like him and he doesn’t like me,” he said. “That’s not the usual pre-fight talk; that’s just the way things are.”
“I don’t like him and he doesn’t like me,” he said. “That’s not the usual pre-fight talk; that’s just the way things are.”
As the fight drew closer, Hagler, whose flinty persona may have kept him out of the mainstream spotlight he so craved, whittled his bitterness down to a single word he had stitched on a baseball cap he wore at the weigh-in: WAR.