As a fan of boxing, especially in the 1980’s and all the great fights and fighters of that time, one fight always stands out in my mind. Finding a book about that fight and the boxers was a very pleasant surprise – here is my review of that book simply titled “The War”
Title: “The War: Hagler-Hearns and Three Rounds For the Ages” by Don Stradley
Rating: 5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)
Review: The decade of the 1980’s is considered by many to be the best decade for boxing. Two of the sport’s stars in that decade, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, fought in 1985 in a frenzied brutal bout that is still talked about more than 35 years later. That includes this excellent book by Don Stradley.
The bout itself was not long, as the title infers as Hagler knocked out Hearns late in the third round. But the action before the punch that felled Hearns, especially in the first round, was back and forth between both fighters and even was stopped by referee Richard Steele as he was concerned about a cut suffered by Hagler. Stradley interviews many journalists who were working at the fight and their recollections make for compelling reading. This is especially noteworthy when most of them share what they saw live that just couldn’t be capturers by the viewers of the fight on television or in the theaters and arenas showing the fight via closed circuit broadcasts, which were the main way to view a fight at the time.
The writing of the build-up of the fight was excellent as well. The promoters, most notably Bob Arum, felt a large media blitz was needed considering that this was not a heavyweight championship fight, nor did it include Sugar Ray Leonard, who had recently announced his retirement.
This is especially important as without his retirement, “The War” may never have happened as Hagler wanted a fight with Leonard and without that chance now, he was angry. Hearn, working his own goals of winning the championship in multiple weight divisions, saw this as his chance to do so. When the fight finally occurred, no one was disappointed save for Hearns.
As someone who sat in a hockey arena on April 15, 1985 and saw this fight, every over the top accolade written about this fight has merit. Stradley’s account of the eight minutes of boxing was not only bringing back memories of that night, but I also found my pulse quickening when recounting that first round when both fighters hurt the other one. Anyone who has any interest in this legendary bout should read this book.