Hagler vs Leonard: Hopkins, Merchant, Kimball, the Fighters and More Discuss the Still-Debated Fight

Eric Raskin has a wonderful piece up on Grantland.com right now, which is an oral history of the famous, still-debated 1987 fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Contributing to the piece are Hagler and Leonard themselves, Bernard Hopkins, Larry Merchant, the late George Kimball, Angelo Dundee, and others. It goes over every aspect of the fight -- the negotiations, the concessions, the decision, and the controversy that still exists these 24 and a half years later.

Here are a few choice quotes, but I seriously recommend reading the whole thing. It is fantastic.

Bernard Hopkins: "I always was a Hagler fan. I identified with him. Bald head, black guy, never really smiled. I don't want to compare color — obviously, Leonard was black, too. But Leonard had an Oscar De La Hoya type of presence when it comes to marketing. Leonard had the smile; he had the charisma. Hagler, no disrespect to anyone, but he had the D-block look, like he was out of Rahway State prison. It was a hard look. It was his look. That drew me to him, and later I identified with the hard way he came up through boxing."

Larry Merchant: "There was a personal element for me, because Ray had worked with me at HBO as an analyst. When we had our customary fighter meetings on the day before the fight, Ray asked what I thought, and I said, "Well, I have to pick Hagler." And I could see that he was disappointed — that he thought I had to be not just smarter, but more loyal. And, as he quotes me in his new book, when I left I said, "I'll be happy if you make me a liar."

Al Bernstein: "There was great energy in that arena. There's something about outdoors at Caesars that was just special. It was in a parking lot when you get down to it, but it just felt special. And the build-up to this fight was unbelievable. It was the quintessential promotion of that time."

Marvin Hagler: "Real boxing people, they know I won. And I just wait for the day — one day, Leonard's gonna tell the truth. He's starting to tell a lot of truth about a lot of things, so if he wants to tell the truth about this, I'm open."

Sugar Ray Leonard: "You know what? He's a proud man. He's an old-school guy, and he feels in his heart that he won the fight. If he's not ready to let it go, then I can understand that."

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