Marvelous Marvin Hagler was on the cusp of one of the most storied championship reigns in boxing history when he squared up against Marcos Geraldo on May 17, 1980, at Caesars Palace in Paradise, Nev.
Hagler had already had one shot on the grand stage for the WBA, WBC, and The Ring middleweight titles six months earlier, failing to capture the belts in a draw against champion Vito Antuofermo.
Geraldo suffered a loss to Sugar Ray Leonard almost a year prior to the date of his fight with Hagler, yet was still considered one of the top contenders in the middleweight division.
Caesars Palace bore witness to a cat-and-mouse chase of a fight. Geraldo’s strategy was to pound the proverbial pavement, constantly moving left against southpaw Hagler and make him pick his spots. Hagler, refusing to comply, pressed on but was strongarmed into fighting a more patient fight for seven rounds, before urgency kicked in for Geraldo.
A hungry Hagler was counterbalanced with a reserved Geraldo who wasted no time moving around the ring. Hagler began lunging forward with errant hooks. He got a straight 1-2 to connect which caused a false-flag knockdown, taking the round against an inert Geraldo.
Geraldo let his flashy footwork shine and followed with a flurry, but much of it was partially blocked. A right hook from Hagler took Geraldo off his feet and a straight left made him stagger. In round three, Hagler let off his third low blow of the bout, none of them called out by the referee. Geraldo utilized sound head movement, but was still tagged enough to find himself in an 0-3 hole.
Punches came in bunches as Hagler pressed on. Geraldo had a bad (or lofty) habit of dropping his gloves whenever tagged or bothered by Hagler, giving off the impression of a lack of respect for Hagler’s pugilism and power. Hagler transitioned to his jab and flicked it with speed, landing three times. Geraldo began to flurry once more and scraped away the fourth round.
Impeccable defense was weaponized by Hagler in round five, which saw him crouch his body to deflect shots downstairs, while keeping his gloves high enough to deflect other punches aimed upstairs. Hagler caught him with a convincing right and a straight left later. In the next round, Hagler switched stances as the cat-and-mouse chase started to agitate him. Geraldo was very busy in the round with vicious crosses, making it four rounds to two in Hagler’s favor.
As the commentator wittily called, Geraldo did a tattoo job on Hagler in round seven. Uppercuts to the navel, straight rights to the moneymaker and flurries that partially landed dominated a Hagler who barely threw in the round. Hagler covered ground in round eight with a barrage of uppercuts that prettily popped Geraldo and prepared him for a counter left hand that demanded its respect against the Mexican tantalizer.
Hagler then went back to his hooks as the fight drew to a close, while remembering his jab, and he finished the affair strong, while Geraldo fizzled out a bit. Midway through round nine, with Hagler trapped in a corner, Geraldo began chopping down at his foe’s head with the side of his fist, as if banging it on a table.
In the final round, Hagler whiffed a lot but landed enough, closing the fight with a winning round that shut the door on Geraldo even having a shot in the dark at a draw. I scored the fight seven rounds to three.
Geraldo made life very difficult for Hagler. Typically we’re accustomed to seeing Marvelous Marvin pour it on against his opponents, but Geraldo’s exceptional footwork and long reach forced Hagler to fight by his rules.
While Geraldo let punches fly, there was a discrepancy in power. In close, Geraldo was able to match Hagler’s precision, but at a distance was out-boxed. This fight was tactical in nature, not offering a tremendous amount of non-stop action. Despite that, it was enjoyable to watch two styles diametrically opposed come together at center stage.
As noted earlier, Marvin Hagler would see 14 wins in a row, first capturing the WBA, WBC, and The Ring titles in his next fight, and making 12 successful defenses while snatching the inaugural IBF middleweight championship in his bout against Wilford Scypion.
Marcos Geraldo went on to fight until 1990, then once more in 1995. He carried a 71-28-1 (50 KO) record into retirement. Various sources dispute his official record, but Geraldo fought in over 100 fights in his career, and earned the respect of his contemporaries.