Arum Looks Back At Hagler-Leonard With
Valdez, Ramirez, Magdaleno & Stevenson
With the 30th anniversary of The SuperFight: Hagler vs.
Leonard just days away (April 6), Hall of Fame promoter Bob
Arum looked back at one of boxing's most spectacular events.
He shared his experiences of that promotion with undefeated
World Boxing Organization (WBO) world champions ÓSCAR
VALDEZ, GILBERTO "Zurdo" RAMIREZ and JESSIE MAGDALENO, as
well as 2016 Olympic silver medalist SHAKUR STEVENSON, who
are headlining an exciting world championship tripleheader,
and Stevenson's pro debut, which will take place on
Saturday, April 22, under the stars at StubHub Center in
Carson, Calif. It will be produced and distributed live on
In turn, each fighter and his respective trainer took a
break from training to watch a clean tape of the fight,
minus audio and graphics, and score it. The fighters shared
their views on the fight as well.
BOB ARUM: You are going to be hearing from these great young
fighters that after reviewing the tape of the Hagler-Leonard
fight will give you their opinions on who won the fight
based on what they saw from the telecast which was given to
them without any sound or graphics on it. Top Rank promoted
that fight, which took place on April 6 -- thirty years ago
before any of these men were born and it was a momentous
event in the world of boxing. I want to set the scene for
that event particularly for the younger people who may not
be aware. The scene was very important. Marvelous Marvin
Hagler had come up the hard way in boxing. He had never been
to the Olympics and he fought any fighter that would step in
the ring with him. He’d have to go from Boston to
Philadelphia and other places to find opponents who would
fight him. Through intervention of the Speaker of the House
of Representatives Tip O’Neil and Senator Ted Kennedy who
sent letters to various people, including myself at Top
Rank, they forced everyone to give Marvelous Marvin Hagler a
shot at the middleweight title. His first shot, I thought he
clearly won the fight against Vito Antifermo, but the judges
scored it a draw. A year later he fought Alan Minter over in
London and stopped Minter in the early rounds -- bloodying
him so much that the fight had to be stopped. Marvin was
greeted by the great sportsmen in England by a barrage of
bottles and cans so that everybody had to hide under the
ring until the police were ready to restore order. But came
back to the United States a real hero then he embarked on a
streak of defending his middleweight title. His first big
fight was in 1983 against Roberto Duran and then in ’85 in a
major, major event he and Thomas Hearns fought a great
middleweight championship battle and Marvin knocked Tommy
out in the third round. Marvin wanted to retire from boxing
at that point but his managers and myself as the promoter
convinced him to carry on and in 1986 he fought John “The
Beast” Mugabi and Mugabi was a tough hard-punching guy --
they went toe-to-toe and in the eleventh round, Marvin
knocked Mugabi out.
Ray Leonard had been retired for a number of years and he
had been watching that fight and he saw what very few people
saw – that Marvin was aging, he was slowing up and Ray, even
though he was retired, felt he could come back and take on
Hagler. When he announced that he was coming out of
retirement, people were incredulous. Hagler went off as a
6:1 or 7:1 favorite in the fight because Leonard was retired
and Hagler was this dominant champion – nobody gave Leonard
a chance. To put it in perspective, remember the media
frenzy when Manny Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya? All of
the media people were saying what a mismatch it was and De
La Hoya was an overwhelming favorite. We remember, because
it was fairly recent, what happened in that fight, Pacquiao
dominated and won that fight, but the feeling was the same
going into the Hagler-Leonard fight. Ray Leonard was a great
fighter, retired, and then coming out of retirement against
this dominant middleweight, Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
The country was mesmerized. Ray Leonard was extremely
popular – he was the poster boy for boxing. I hope that
young Shakur Stevenson will follow in the footsteps of Ray
Leonard because he has that kind of personality, but Ray was
the darling of America and the darling of boxing. Marvin was
respected – everybody realized what a workman-like fighter
he was. To sell that fight I called it ‘The Yuppie’ being
Leonard who came out of the Olympics with a Gold Medal and
had big television exposure from the beginning against the
blue collar guy Marvin Hagler who had worked himself up and
become the dominant middleweight of his time.
The closed circuit locations were filled. This was the first
fight that really touched/started into pay-per-view in
various parts of the country. It was a massive, massive
event. The fight was sold out in one day and everyone was
gathered for this terrific event. I’ll tell you I haven’t
seen that fight in 30 years but I remember it as if it
happened yesterday. We will talk to the fighters on the call
that recently watched the fight and get their views.
ÓSCAR VALDEZ, Undefeated WBO Featherweight World Champion
who defends his title against the No. 1 contender, Miguel
Marriaga on Saturday, April 22, at StubHub Center, Live on
Pay Per View: “First of all I want to say it was a great,
great fight. I saw the fight when I was a kid because my dad
always showed me tapes of the fights. Watching without the
audio I thought that Hagler was the more aggressive fighter.
Leonard was moving a lot in the early rounds but was trying
to win the later rounds with that speed. I think Hagler did
enough to win the fight and I had him winning 115-113.”
GILBERTO RAMÍREZ: Undefeated WBO Super Middleweight
Champion, defends his title against top ten contender Max
Bursack, also on April 22, live on pay per view: “That was
really interesting and a great fight to watch – for me, for
my trainer Hector [Zapari] and for the whole team – we
watched the fight together. For me, I had Sugar Ray Leonard
by three rounds because at the beginning of the fight Hagler
pressured more but he looked a little bit tired later - he
fought the whole fight going forward. I thought Leonard won
the fight because he moved around the ring and he threw more
JESSIE MAGDALENO: Undefeated WBO Junior Featherweight
Champion defends his title against Adeilson De Los Santos on
the April 22 pay per view show at StubHub Center: "I scored
the fight real close. It was a great fight. They both did a
tremendous job and they went in there to pretty much kill
each other, but I scored the fight 115-113 for Leonard. I
thought Leonard controlled most of the fight. He never let
Hagler get in the rhythm or get inside like Hagler usually
does to use his power. Leonard really out-boxed him for the
full 12-rounds and used his smarts, speed and footwork to
keep Hagler away and that’s what got the victory for him."
SHAKUR STEVENSON: 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist, makes his
pro debut in a six-round featherweight bout on April 22,
live on pay per view: "I would love to say that I thought
Marvin Hagler won because he was from my hometown [Newark],
but to be honest, watching the fight and watching Sugar Ray
Leonard – Leonard was a beast. I had it 115-113, but Leonard
was real good especially coming out of retirement."
BOB ARUM: I thought it was a great fight. I thought Ray did
a tremendous job, better than anybody expected him to do. I
had it 115-113 for Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The same score
that Lou Felippo – one of the judges had it for Hagler. The
other judge from Las Vegas, David Moretti, had it 115-113
for Leonard. Jose Sulaiman’s appointed judge, Jo Jo
Guerrero, who never judged another fight, had it eleven
rounds to one for Leonard.
Many people thought Ray was stealing rounds with flurries at
the end – did you see that?
BOB ARUM: Absolutely, but that was not a unique tactic for
Sugar Ray and it was modeled after Muhammad Ali. Very often,
in close rounds, particularly in the Norton fight, he would
flurry at the end so that the impression he left in the
judges’ minds was that he won the round. Obviously rounds
should be scored for the full three minutes but there is no
questions that human beings being human will give more
credit for the last part of a round – not that that’s
correct, but that’s how it works.
That pretty much tells the story of Sugar Ray’s smarts in
BOB ARUM: He was a brilliant fighter, because physically he
couldn’t compare. at that point, to Hagler.
Did they not really like each other?
BOB ARUM: No. No No. Marvin could not do a fight unless he
got himself into a position where he disliked the opponent.
He would put a picture of his opponent up on his bedroom
wall so that he would glare back at it. To motivate himself
he was the kind of fighter that had to create a dislike for
his opponent. Now the guy he really hated, when he fought
him, was Hearns. Because when we had them on a tour, Tommy
got under Marvin’s skin. But Marvin was disdainful toward
Ray because he believed Ray had it so easy in boxing and
that he, Marvin, had struggled so hard, but it wasn’t the
same kind of hatred that he had for Tommy. I must say that
now, many years later, these guys are great friends.
Why did Hagler quit after the fight?
BOB ARUM: Well, he wanted to quit after the Hearns fight -
and I want these fighters to hear this. Then we got him to
fight Mugabi, then he didn’t want to go any more – he didn’t
want to fight Ray Leonard and what happened was, I remember
driving through the night with Pat Petronelli, Hagler’s
manager, from Boston to New Hampshire where Hagler had a
house. We went through fog and everything. I waited and Pat
started talking to him and Marvin was banging his hands on
the table and afterwards I asked Pat ‘what was that about?’
He said well, I said to Marvin, my brother Goody, who is
Hagler’s trainer, we were getting a third of his purse, and
we would cut it down if he would take this fight, and he
banged the table, Marvin did and said ‘I don’t know if I’m
going to fight this punk, but if I do you better take one
third.’ He was a hell of a guy, Marvin – he is a hell of a
guy. Ray was great too. Ray, Tommy, Roberto – those four
guys are examples for all fighters. They were terrific
fighters and terrific people.
Shakur, how are you looking to make your pro debut?
SHAKUR STEVENSON: I am very excited and I can’t wait. I feel
like I perform under the lights and I am actually excited to
perform on April 22 and do what I’ve got to do.
Ray Leonard was not only a great boxer but also a pretty
good showman. Do you pattern yourself after him?
SHAKUR STEVENSON: Actually, to be honest with you, I just
started watching Ray Leonard. As I am watching, and watching
more and more, I try and pick up certain things that he does
and trying to add that into my style.
Any regrets about not making your debut in Newark?
SHAKUR STEVENSON: No regrets. I don’t care where I am at. I
am a fighter and I am going to fight either way.
Bob, what do you think about Shakur’s prospects?
BOB ARUM: I think that Shakur is going to be a major star in
boxing. He has the talent and he has the personality and he
is managed by good people – James Prince and Andre Ward. I
think the sky is the limit for him. I am really proud of
this April 22nd card - introducing Shakur to professional
boxing and to have my three great young world champions
defending their titles. These three young kids, relatively
young, Oscar, Gilberto and Jessie are tremendous young men
and great fighters. They works their asses off – they really
work hard. They are great role models now that they have
been fighting for four or more years now. They are great
role models for Shakur. We are looking for big things for
all of them and as far as Shakur is concerned, I think he
should emulate a guy like Sugar Ray Leonard, who was a great
personality, as well as a great fighter.
Ray had an outgoing personality and a million dollar smile
to match. How was Hagler?
BOB ARUM: Hagler was the polar opposite. He was relatively
introverted. He didn’t show his emotions particularly but I
got to know him over the years extraordinarily well and he
was a real man and he was the kind of guy that if you were
in a war and in a foxhole you would want to be with a
Marvelous Marvin Hagler. But he didn’t affect the
personality – that really wasn’t him. He was true to
himself. In other words, he would never have the personality
of a Sugar Ray Leonard or even try to have that personality.
He always was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Ray – that
personality was natural. If you speak today to Ray, it is
the same bubbly smile and the same personality many years
later. So these two guys were true to themselves.
Where are they now?
BOB ARUM: Hagler is still in Italy and has an Italian wife.
Listen you guys – this is for the young guys, for the
fighters - Marvelous Marvin Hagler never spent 5 cents in a
casino. All the time I knew him he never bought me a meal.
Every dollar that he made he put away in the bank so that
when he retired he had all the money that he would need for
the rest of his life. He kept that money and he lived off
the interest and also money that he got for speaking
engagements and so forth. He is a wealthy man today because
he was so frugal with his money. As Shakur said, he was born
in Newark, went to Brockton, Massachusetts, in New England.
New Englanders have a reputation for being frugal and he had
an accountant that looked after his money. He was very
conservative in his investments. Today he is a very wealthy
guy and he enjoys himself in Italy and comes out from time
to time to make speeches at conventions or boxing dinners
and he never missed a Hall of Fame induction – he is just
that kind of guy. Sugar Ray invested extraordinarily wisely.
He is a very well to do guy. He is very active in charities.
He lives a very good life. He has a wonderful family and I
must say that both of these guys are extraordinarily happy
people as their lives have turned out.
BOB ARUM: Ray does broadcasting from time to time, as a
lark, because he is into other things. He plays a lot of
golf but he is very active in charitable endeavors.
Does Marvin still act?
BOB ARUM: Well, he is getting to an age where he can’t play
the gangster as well. I don’t know when they made their last
‘spaghetti western’ as they call it in Italy, but to listen
to him speak Italian is hilarious. He speaks it with this
American accent and it’s really funny.
How hard did you try to get a rematch?
BOB ARUM: I remember a year later at Caesars they were doing
a big dinner to honor the fighters that had fought at
Caesars and it was really a salute to boxing. At that
dinner, Muhammad Ali was there and I was there, Ray, Marvin
and Roberto Duran. Ray called me over and said “Bob, go
speak to him (meaning Hagler) and say let’s do the rematch
it will do a fortune of business.’ So I went over and talked
to Marvin and said “Ray wants me to talk to you about a
rematch.’ And Marvin looked at me with that scowl and said
‘tell that guy to get a life.’ That was it – we tried.
Marvin was having no more of that.
Were these two the greatest to work with, along with
BOB ARUM: They were great fighters and great people. They
had a presence about them in the ring and they never ducked
anybody. They were happy to take on any challenge that was
there. Boxing had extraordinary popularity during the 80’s
and a lot of that was attributable to Ray and Marvin and
Tommy and Roberto Duran. They were the focus of boxing. Ali
retired in 1978. He came back to fight Larry Holmes
unfortunately. But the 80’s belonged to the Four Kings and
boxing was extraordinarily prosperous then and boxing was on
the tongues of sports people and non-sports people not only
in the United States but all over the world.
How easy was it to sign the fight?
BOB ARUM: Nothing is easy in boxing and nothing was easy
then. The two guys, once we got Marvin on board, now we knew
the fight was going to happen and Ray had a lawyer named
Mike Trainer, who has passed away, and Trainer wanted Ray to
control the promotion. So he said the fight would only
happen if Top Rank – Marvin’s promoter – was not involved.
Marvin and the Petronelli brothers, who were loyal guys,
said they were not interested in fighting unless Top Rank
promoted the fight. So as a result of that, Trainer said
‘OK, Arum buy us out for $11M which was a big sum at the
time, and still is a big sum, but at that time it was
enormous, and I agreed to do that and I paid Marvin on a
percentage and Marvin earned $19 million for the fight and
Ray Leonard will never let me forget that.
Do you think Ray changed the perception that now you only
had to win rounds to win a fight?
BOB ARUM: Well, the rules say that each round is scored
separately and at the end of the fight the fighter that has
the most rounds wins that judge's scorecard. The idea that a
challenger has to do more than a champion to win a round or
the fight is something that isn’t part of the rules – it’s a
myth. You score the fight individually by rounds, period,
anyone that says the challenger has to take away the title
from the champion by doing appreciably more than the
champion – that’s nonsense and contrary to the rules.
But the perception?
BOB ARUM: That’s the perception because people, journalists
talk about this and it is fake opinion. It’s not in
accordance with the rules. They love to write about it
‘well, the challenger didn’t do enough to win the title’
well he doesn’t have to do more to win, other than to win
the majority of the rounds - that’s what the rules say.
Can you think of another fight that has generated as much
BOB ARUM: Close fights always generate controversy. The
Kovalev-Ward fight – people swear that Kovalev won the fight
and other people say Andre won the fight. That’s part of
what makes boxing really interesting are the very close
fights. The second De La Hoya-Mosley fight – I thought Oscar
won that fight easily and Mosley got the decision and that
was a lot of controversy. The first fight between Lennox
Lewis and Evander Holyfield – Lewis won that fight easily –
they called it a draw. You know, that’s the nature of the
thing - when you have three judges that view a fight
Sticking points to negotiations…
BOB ARUM: Well, at that point we were transitioning from 15
rounds to 12 rounds and Marvin obviously wanted 15 rounds
but agreed to 12 rounds. That really was the only concession
that was made that was of any significance.
The judge that scored the fight 118-110 for Leonard actually
still judges fight believe it or not…
BOB ARUM: Yes, but not in the United States – we built a
wall to keep him out.
Was that the worst scorecard you have ever seen?
BOB ARUM: Just about the worst – that was ridiculous. The
other two scorecards, those of Moretti and Fillippo, they
were in the realm, the reasonable realm, but Marvin got
cheated because they had that Mexican judge who was rumored
to be connected to the organizations which favored Leonard.
The fallout from that judge?
BOB ARUM: Well, that’s right – everybody realized somehow
there was something that smelled wrong and nobody in the
United States would allow him to judge a fight again. I
didn’t know that he was still around even. You’re the one
that said he was judging fights – I didn’t know that. I
never heard of him after that fight.
He judges primarily in Mexico but he is 83 still judging…
BOB ARUM: Probably now doing a great job since his eyes are
failing him – probably getting close to what the real score
Was there a fallout?
BOB ARUM: There was an investigation by the Nevada
commission about the scoring on that fight.
Does Zurdo think he could hang with those guys [Kovalev and
BOB ARUM: He doesn’t have to worry about hanging with those
guys. The fight Gilberto wants if he is successful on April
22 is GGG and I would agree to take that fight winner take
all. I think Zurdo destroys Golovkin the same way that he
destroyed Arthur Abraham.
Many thought GGG was showing his age against Jacobs – do you
BOB ARUM: Yes we all do, even me, I am 85 and I am showing
my age. But yes, sure he is there is no question. The great
A.E. Houseman poem, "To An Athlete Dying Young" -- an
athlete's life is relatively short.
ÓSCAR VALDEZ: Hagler-Leonard was a great fight. It's a new
era where Jessie Magdaleno and Zurdo Ramírez and myself and
of course Shakur Stevenson, a great fighter, I love his
style. It's a new era and these are examples that motivates
us. Jessie and I work in the same gym every day and we push
each other to the limit every single day. And we have a
tough, tough fight ahead of us in Miguel Marriaga, the
number one contender in the WBO and I can see in his eyes
that he wants to accomplish his dream, to become a world
champion. But I worked so hard to get this world title and
be here and I'm not planning on leaving this anytime soon.
I'm working very, very hard because I see these fighters
want to take something away from me. I want to give a great
fight to the fans at StubHub and those fans tuning into the
JESSIE MAGDALENO: Hagler and Leonard made great history and
now you have these young and up-and-coming new world
champions who are ready to show the world what we're able
and capable of doing. April 22 is going to be a night of
SHAKUR STEVENSON: Hagler-Leonard, that was a great era but
now it's our turn to begin our own legacy and create our own
era where we have fights like that [Hagler-Leonard} down the
line and I can't wait for that to happen. But as of now, I'm
focused on doing what I have to do on April 22, going in
there and catching a knockout. That's my plan.
BOB ARUM: Thirty years from now, we'll be talking -- I hope
I'll be talking (laughing) -- about major, major fights that
these young men will have had. And we'll be looking back to
those fights as being key points and key aspects of boxing
in our era.