y the time they entered the ring that Monday evening, Hagler and Hearns looked like they were expecting a powder keg to explode. After an intense staredown, both men waited for the opening bell to sound. Hearns, as chiseled as stonework in his gold Kronk trunks, stood in the red corner and continued glaring at Hagler. It was the last calm moment between them until the post-fight press conference.
When the bell finally rang, it was a cue for pandemonium to begin. Within seconds, Hagler, normally a measured tactician, tore after Hearns, hurling shots with abandon. In order to slow Hagler down, Hearns immediately retaliated with blazing combinations. He staggered an onrushing Hagler with a flashing right uppercut and immediately opened fire with both hands. But Hagler had a chin like bedrock, and he survived the assault by clinching and leaning under the fusillade of blows. Then, bobbing and weaving frenetically, Hagler began driving Hearns back with hooks and knifing body shots.
With about a minute remaining in the helter-skelter opening round, Hearns landed a thunderous right that split Hagler open between the eyes.
In an instant, blood began to pour from the wound in rivulets, and Hagler, with 11 rounds still scheduled for the night, now resembled a cover story for Fangoria instead of Sports Illustrated.
Determined to force Hearns into debilitating exchanges, Hagler ignored the blood and charged Hearns with redoubled fury. While Hearns lashed roundhouse rights and ripping uppercuts, Hagler banged away to the body and brought short hooks over the top. As both men whipsawed blows in close, the crowd lost itself in a euphoria of bloodlust. During the last 45 seconds of the round, Hearns and Hagler traded artillery against the ropes in a blur. Just before the bell rang to end one of the most explosive opening rounds in history, Hagler wobbled Hearns with a crushing right. “At first I was wondering when this guy was gonna stop punching,” Hagler would later tell George Kimball, “but I was sorry to see that round end."
It would be difficult, however, for Hearns to recover from what he had suffered in that violent opening collision. On his stool between rounds, Hearns told his trainer, Emanuel Steward, that he had broken his right hand.