ripping the undisputed title from Britain’s Alan Minter in September of
1980, Marvin Hagler secured his place as one of the great Middleweight
Champions in thrilling battles with fellow greats such as, Thomas Hearns,
Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard to name just a few. There was another
great fighter during this era, however, who sadly was never able to secure
a fight with Hagler or any of the other ‘big four’ that helped mark
the eighties as one of the great decades in the history of the sport.
the aforementioned quartet regularly went to war in multi-million pound
extravaganzas, Mike McCallum quietly peddled his trade in the background
during an unglamorous yet outstanding WBA Junior Middleweight Title reign
that saw him make six successful defenses. He later complemented this with
World title success at 160 and 175 pounds into the nineties as well.
A skilled craftsman with a granite jaw, solid punch, beautiful
skills and an exquisite line in body punching, it was unfortunate for
McCallum that boxing only had so much room in a decade crammed with mega
talent and mega stars.
wise, I think Hagler-McCallum could have been a beautiful match- up
featuring the firepower, pressure, chin and southpaw sharp-shooting of
Hagler against the speed, wiles and counter-punching acumen of McCallum.
Record: 62-3-2 (52).
Undisputed Middleweight Champion 1980-1987
and strengths: Aggressive,
granite jawed, versatile southpaw slugger with heavy hands, a thumping jab
and relentless stamina. He was also an excellent boxer capable of
switching stances and boxing when faced with aggressive sluggers.
Nothing of note
although for all his aggression and strength Hagler was occasionally
criticized for being an arm puncher and not getting the full bodyweight
into some of his shots.
wins: Sugar Ray Seales,
Willy “The Worm” Monroe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Eugene
“Cyclone” Hart, Benny Briscoe, Kevin Finnegan, Alan Minter, Fuly Obel,
Vito Antuofermo, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and John Mugabi.
defeats: The later
defeated Monroe and Watts both out-pointed Hagler in his outstanding
pre-title career and a famous split verdict to Leonard in Hagler’s last
‘The Bodysnatcher’ McCallum
Record: 49-5-1 (36)
Country: Jamaican based in the USA.
Light-Middleweight 84-87, WBA Middleweight 89-91, WBC Light-Heavyweight
Minchillo, Julian Jackson, Milton McCrory, Donald Curry, Herol Graham,
Sumbu Kalambay, Steve Collins, Michael Watson, Jeff Harding
and a super draw with James Toney.
Kalamabay (later avenged), two tight decisions to old foe James Toney,
Fabrice Tiozzo, and
Defensively cunning counter-puncher with a full repertoire of hooks, jabs,
uppercuts along with crosses and terrific footwork. His superb body
punching earned him his nickname after some heavy sparring sessions with
Thomas Hearns at the Kronk Gym. He was also the owner of a rock solid Jaw.
While always a stiff puncher at Junior Middleweight his power generally
lessened slightly as he moved up through the divisions.
rounds for the Undisputed Middleweight Championship of the World
jabs are traded early in the first. Hagler’s southpaw stance seems to be
no real problem for McCallum who is able to get his left jab through the
high guard of Hagler. Marvin opens up with a combo and McCallum spins out
of trouble and counters with an uppercut. Hagler responds with a decent
left to the body. Both are clearly looking to make a mark early. McCallum
dances away from a Hagler combination and lands a countering uppercut and
following left right to the body. Hagler has the last word with a clubbing
right hook. Good crisp punching on both sides as both have fine moments in
a lively first round.
boxing from the Jamaican in the second with Hagler stalking patiently;
McCallum spins away from Hagler’s dangerous right hook and counters with
a stiff right cross. Hagler smiles and slots in a double jab but misses
with a left uppercut. Hagler attacks the body but is countered by another
stiff right, Hagler fires a barrage in response, but McCallum spins out of
range and counters with a left hook to the body. Hagler snaps through a
jab, his most effective punch in the early going, and McCallum ends the
round with a double left jab. McCallum edges a tense and riveting second.
is content to keep on the move and wait for counter-punching
opportunities. Hagler is no mindless slugger and his high guard means that
McCallum has to pick his spots, but his neat countering is certainly more
than a nuisance to the Shaven headed Southpaw. Hagler is made to miss with
a left cross and is caught by a cracking right as he straightens up.
McCallum comes off his toes and fires a combination to the body and stiff
left hook to the head, Hagler lands a stiff jab and left cross to send
McCallum back on the balls of his feet and dancing out of danger. Two more
left jabs mark a clear round for McCallum.
pattern through round four with McCallum marginally out-boxing Hagler. On
the two-minute mark the constantly stalking Southpaw aims his attack to
the body and has some success. It’s frantic stuff with neither giving
ground and big punches are traded including some picture perfect body
punching from McCallum. A more urgent attack sees the Jamaican pinned to
the ropes towards the end of the round, but he nails the swarming Hagler
with a hook, cross, and uppercut. The final punch sends Hagler’s head back on his
shoulders and brings a gasp from the crowd. After the bell is there is an
intense stare down and the referee separates them.
is 3-0-1 down in rounds and comes out for the fifth with purpose and zeal.
Firing stiff right jabs and heavy crosses he forces McCallum into the
trenches. One notable left catches the West Indian slickster and two
rights to the body have him backing up. McCallum attempts to retaliate
with sharp counters, but Hagler either ducks under or ignores them as he
plows forward with sharp, swarming attacks. McCallum really feels the
weight of one right hook and spins out of a corner. Mike has some success
at rounds end with his right, but it’s Marvin’s round.
the next four rounds the pattern continues. Hagler stalks and despite
eating several sharp counters and some neat body shots his high volume
attack slowly closes McCallum down. It’s exciting stuff with heavy shots
going in from both, but Hagler’s edge in power and increasing accuracy
see him taking the rounds, though his right eye swells with consistent
attention of McCallum’s left jab.
ninth is pivotal; the Jamaican needs to redress the balance and really
begins to put weight into his counters, nailing Hagler with his full
armory as the attack continues. Hagler feels the pace this round and seems
to take a breather allowing the busier McCallum to take the round.
dances behind the jab through rounds 10 and 11 and counters Hagler’s
less frequent attacks with a stiff right cross. Hagler has his moments and
is constantly dangerous with the left, but McCallum takes three rounds on
the trot. Hagler seems to feel a nagging left hook to the body on the bell
and goes back to his corner wincing.
grueling now and Hagler’s wrenches the initiative back in round 12 with
a swarming attack. McCallum is rocked significantly by a huge right hook,
then later in the round by a three punch combination; his gum shield flies
out of his mouth as a huge right hook has him sagging again on the two
minute mark. The brief respite to replace the shield buys him precious
seconds. Hagler doles out his own body attack until the bell.
non-stop attack continues through round 13 and despite eating some heavy
counters Hagler’s will slowly descends on the fledging McCallum who
absorbs a fearful combination on the ropes at the bell. Two questions
remain, Will Hagler punch himself out or will McCallum make it through to
the final bell?
the Jamaicans immense pride sees him dig deep to take the early part of
fourteenth round on shear boxing; he spears Hagler with the Jab and
attacks the body when he can. For McCallum it’s like holding back the
tide, Hagler cracks him with a huge left hand 20 seconds before the bell
and finally the weary Jamaican slumps to the canvas for an eight count.
The crowd roar as he bravely staggers Hagler with a terrific right just
before the bell.
his right eye swollen shut, pours out his entire arsenal in the final
round and the brave and mighty McCallum goes to toe to toe to treat the
crowd to an awesome three minutes of championship boxing. Ultimately
it’s a sniper rifle versus a machine gun though. Hagler’s meatier
shots win him the round. The final sequences see a monstrous right hook
from Hagler distort McCallum’s face then a whipping right counter from
McCallum sending Hagler’s head back on his shoulders. It’s a thrilling
end to a bout filled with artistry, skill, toughness, ebbing fortunes and
ultimately immense bravery.
middle round dominance and late surge seem to have put him in front,
though with McCallum’s early ascendancy and rally through rounds 10-12
if figures to be close.
is; but ultimately it is Hagler who takes a deserved verdict with scores
of 146-143, 145-141 and a close 144-141. Hagler describes McCallum as,
“A great fighter, spiteful hitter and maybe my smartest ever foe.”
McCallum responds simply with, “What a champion he is, everything I did
he an answer for,” summing up the fight perfectly.
Hagler wins an epic struggle with a unanimous decision.