o sooner did the third round begin than referee Richard Steele halted the action and ushered a bloodied Hagler over to ringside physician Donald Romeo, who examined the champion and allowed the fight to continue. A possible TKO loss on cuts was all the extra impetus Hagler needed to move in for the kill. An overhand right sent Hearns staggering across the ring like a tipsy old-timer. In hot pursuit, Hagler, his face contorted in sporting rage, clubbed away before crashing another right with Hearns against the ropes.
It landed with the force of a smart bomb. Hearns, his skull whiplashed by the blow, collapsed to the canvas.
Ringside photos of that moment show Hearns flat on his back, eyes seemingly lifeless, resembling, despite the Jheri curls, a painting of Christ in his tomb by Hans Holbein the Younger.
Halfway through the count, Hearns began to stir. With supernatural courage and pride, the stricken "Hit Man" staggered to his feet and managed to beat the count by a nanosecond. But his blank stare told Richard Steele, and the rapturous crowd, that he had come so far, but it was over. Steele called a halt to the battle at 2:01 of the third round. Hearns, spent, tottered into his arms as 15,000 spectators exploded in delirium, their collective altered state broken by the sudden, savage ending.