Fantasy Fights: Roy Jones Jr. vs. Marvin Hagler

By Cain Bradley on June 23, 2015
Fantasy Fights: Roy Jones Jr. vs. Marvin Hagler
Two legends of the game in their primes, which middleweight great comes out on top?

Roy has a tough time landing his potshots but his use of head movement and feints is so good, he can tempt Hagler into mistakes…

Marvin Hagler was born in Newark in 1954. At the age of 13, following riots in Newark, his family would move to Brockton, Massachusetts. It was there he would begin boxing at the age of 15. After only four years as an amateur boxer he would become the National AAU champion. His record according to Sports Illustrated would end at 52-2. His first coaches Pat and Goody Petronelli would become his trainers and managers throughout his entire career. This was one of numerous things that Hagler would keep the same all through his professional career. Unlike many, he would have no entourage and even carried his own bags. He would hole up in Massachusetts and do his road work in army boots as running shoes were for “sissies.” Hagler would have two main motivators throughout his career. The first was the poverty he was born into. Marvin would fight in order to make his way into prosperity. It was the reason he turned professional when he did and can be seen as a motivator throughout his career. As well as this, Hagler always felt he was given a lack of respect throughout his career. He reportedly remained angry at a Sugar Ray Leonard who earned $40,000 for his debut compared to the $40 that Hagler received. This feeling was amplified throughout his career as Hagler saw himself on the wrong end of disputed decisions and was avoided at all costs by numerous fighters. He was told as a young boxer by Joe Frazier that he had three strikes against him; he was black, he was a southpaw, and he was good. He would also feel this lack of respect when he was not referred to as “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. This irked him so much he had the name legally changed. Marvin would always resent this lack of respect and the feeling he was never truly given the credit he deserved managed to push him onto greater things.

His first two years would see Hagler take on 23 bouts. In his 15th he would hand the first loss to Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Seales. The second bout between the pair would be a draw. After his 25th fight he would head to Philadelphia to fight the hometown boy Bobby Watts. He would lose a disputed decision and the promoter J. Russell Peltz would apologize to the Hagler team. Two months later after defeating Matt Donovan he would return to Philadelphia and lose to Willie Monroe on two week’s notice. This would be avenged with two stoppage defeats, the first in 12 rounds and then in the 2nd round. After 20 consecutive wins Hagler would get his world title shot against the Vito Antuofermo. Hagler would outbox the Italian brawler with the referee Mills Lane congratulating him and telling him to face the cameras until they announced him the winner. Unfortunately for Marvin Hagler, it would result in a draw which saw Antuofermo retain the title. He would get another shot, after three more wins including one over Bobby Watts. The shot would come against Alan Minter, who Hagler would dominate in three rounds. He would go on to defend this title 12 times including a win over Antuofermo. He would also earn his first $1million purse defeating southpaw Mustafa Hamsho in 11. Hagler defeated Panamanian Roberto Duran in a hard-fought decision. He would stop his next four opponents, Juan Roldon in 10, Mustafa Hamsho in three, Thomas Hearns in three, and John Mugabi in 11. The Hearns fight is generally known as “The War,” lasting eight minutes and generally described as one of the greatest fights of all time. His final fight would be against a returning Sugar Ray Leonard where he lost another split decision. Hagler would never return to the ring. His final record would stand at 62-3-2 with 52 KOs.

Hagler was a right-handed southpaw which meant his had a sledgehammer of a jab. He could also switch to orthodox comfortably, a tactic he employed against Sugar Ray Leonard. Despite not being a tall fighter at 5’9 he had long arms with an incredible reach of 75 inches. He would commonly be described as a boxer-puncher who really had it all. He could counterpunch, wear his opponents down with big combos and brawl with anyone. Leonard commented after the first Hamsho fight that he never realized Hagler could box too. He could box at distance or use feints to lure his opponent into making mistakes. His lateral movement, especially against an orthodox boxer where his style would move him away from the powerful right hand, was brilliant. He had one of the best chins in boxing history, being knocked down only once. This would come against Juan Roldon and replays would show it to not be a punch but a slip. The end of his career would see Hagler move from a slick boxer-puncher into more of a flat-footed stalker with heavy hands. It could also be argued he lacked the speed of a Sugar Ray Leonard or a Tommy Hearns and was too machined in the ring rather than being spontaneous.

Roy Jones never suffered the lack of acceptance that made Hagler bitter throughout his career. He was born in January 1969 and raised in Florida. He was raised for boxing success, taught by his father, Roy Sr. His father was tough on young Roy and their relationship was forever tainted by this. Roy Sr. would drop to his knees and box his young son as well as using pipe on his thighs if he got out of line in a workout. Senior described these as training but Roy Jr. never forgot the torment and when his Dad shot Roy’s pit bull the relationship broke up, with neither speaking to the other for years. He was a decorated amateur. He was a two time Golden Gloves winner, the first win coming at the age of 17. At the 1988 Olympics he would compete at the tender age of 19. He would shine throughout the tournament, but in the final would come up against Park Si-Hun the hometown fighter. He would outland Park by over 50 and outthrow him by over 100. Despite this he lost the decision 3-2. One judge reportedly said afterwards he was so sure Jones had won he gave Park his scorecard so to not embarrass the home nation. Despite this loss Jones would win the Val Barker trophy. His final amateur record was 121-13.

Despite the incredible start to his career Jones would be promoted by his Dad for his early fights. He missed out on the chance to be on network TV and earn the huge sums of money that someone like Sugar Ray Leonard did early in his career. Despite this, Jones would start his career flawlessly with 15 stoppages. He would stop the former world champion Jorge Vaca in the 1st round and after 21 wins he would fight Bernard Hopkins for the vacant IBF title. Despite being hindered by a broken hand Roy would cruise to an easy decision win. In his next fight he would stop Sugar Boy Malinga in six rounds. He would step up to super middleweight to face the pound-for-pound number two James Toney. Roy was an underdog for the first time in his career but he danced circles around James with The Ring calling it the best performance in a big fight for 20 years. His reign at super middleweight included a win over Vinny Pazienza before moving up again to light heavyweight. He would win the WBC title by beating Mike McCallum in a lopsided decision. His next fight would be against Montell Griffin who planned the exploit the technical mistakes Jones often made. He made it tough for Jones but Roy had edged ahead by the ninth round. It was here he dropped Griffin but would land two shots on his downed opponent. This would lead to the first loss of his career as he was disqualified. His next fight was a rematch and Jones was irrepressible, stopping Griffin in one round. He would unify the WBC, WBA and IBF belts beating Virgil Hill, Lou Del Valle, Reggie Johnson and Clinton Woods along the way. He decided he needed a bigger challenge, literally, so moved up to heavyweight and would take the title of John Ruiz to become the first middleweight world champion to become a heavyweight world champion in over 100 years. He would return to light heavyweight noticeably slower and he embarked on a slow decline. He would edge Antonio Tarver for a decision win but would then lose three in a row as Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson both stopped Jones before Antonio Tarver put an exclamation mark on the trilogy with a decision win. He would defeat Felix Trinidad at 170 pounds but a loss to Joe Calzaghe put the end to Jones being thought of as a top class boxer. His career would continue with losses including Danny Green, Bernard Hopkins and Dennis Lebedev. He last fought in March to take his record to 61-8.

Roy Jones was one of a kind. He was gifted with incredible speed and power which he used to make himself one of the most difficult fighters to beat. His style would possibly be best described as a sniper. He was incredibly smart and his judgment and range was exceptional. The majority of his punches would be described as methodical potshots. He had a low jab output but had an amazing ability to land against a set defender. His catalogue of punches including a windmilling right hand, gazelle punches and long loopy jumping shots. He would often lead with his right and sidestep left away from the southpaw power left. His right hand was one of the fastest punches in history and he was constantly set for it with his right shoulder level with the front and the early twist of his feet and hips. His left hand would be held down by his side and Jones would often stick his chin out. He varied his tricks and counters and was an incredibly elusive fighter. Opponents found Roy Jones incredibly frustrating and this frustration often played right into his hands. He could land exceptional counters with his split second reactions. Roy was big at middleweight at 5’11 with a reach of 74 inches and often entered the ring as high as 180 pounds.

Hagler was probably at his best around the time of his fight with Hearns. He had not sustained the damage from that war and still had his abilities to do it all. Jones may have reached the pinnacle of his career at a higher weight, but at middleweight and then super middleweight came arguably the best Roy Jones. The Jones that fought Toney still had the ability to easily make middleweight and it was one of his best performances.

At middleweight there is really no blueprint on how to beat either. Against Hagler the trick seemed to be the judges, as he often lost close decisions. In theory Hagler struggled when he had to force the action especially against someone with good footwork. Jones did not only lose following his move to light heavyweight. Of the five losses that could be described as Jones at a decent loss two were stoppages, a disqualification and a points defeat. It was hard to question his chin, the first time he was ever dropped was at super middleweight and big punchers like James Toney did not manage it. Two of his defeats did come to a southpaw in Antonio Tarver and he was dropped by Lou De Valle. Fighting a southpaw tends to eliminate the leaping right hand because of the danger of their left. In theory Roy would struggle with a high volume swarmer with a strong chin or someone who would wait for Roy to throw and use a tight guard. Jones would likely fight the same way he fought Toney, avoiding shots and potshotting. He stayed away from Toney well aware of his devastating power, similar to that of Hagler. Hagler has more in his arsenal but his decisions prior to the fight would be interesting. Hagler was at his best against a fighter coming at him, but surely he couldn’t expect to have enough patience to make Roy come in for exchanges. Would he approach it like he did the Hearns fight, against a quick powerful puncher, know he can outlast and outpunch Jones? I expect Hagler to start a lot slower, perhaps hoping Jones would come to him but his ability to adapt during the fight means it’s always a possibility.

The fight would no doubt be an incredible spectacle. A timid 1st round sees Hagler try and draw out Jones but Jones is happy to land a shot and move. With the reach of Hagler, Roy has a tough time landing his potshots but his use of head movement and feints is so good, he can tempt Hagler into mistakes. His lateral movement leaves Hagler struggling to engage. The 2nd round sees a similar pattern as Jones tries to stay away from Hagler. Hagler is more willing to press the action and he gets the jab off more often but can only land one punch rather than combos. Jones lands a big leaping left hook that hits clean on Hagler but Hagler barely moves. This pattern continues over the 3rd and 4th but Roy is increasingly backed into corners and put under pressure by Hagler. The impressive lateral movement comes into play for Hagler as he avoids letting Roy off the ropes. Hagler turns it up heading into the 5th round and manages to get on top of Roy in the corner. He has also managed to time Roy a bit better and by this point is making Roy miss and punishing him. The 6th round sees Hagler drop Jones with a double jab-left combination. Hagler relentlessly stalks Roy for the rest of the round but cannot put him away. The 7th round sees a faded and cut Roy come out to the middle of the ring and look to land on Hagler. Hagler enjoys this and makes Roy miss before returning big shots which again drop Roy. Roy gets up slowly and tries to avoid the wrath of Hagler but Hagler is so relentless that he finds the chin of Jones and finally stops him midway through the 7th round.

Marvin Hagler defeats Roy Jones Jr. by Knockout in the Seventh Round.

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  1. bikermike 06:40pm, 07/29/2016

    ...but TONY VS JONES was for the super middle weight title..

    HAGLER came in at one sixty… the fucking gram…..that was his weight he fought at…..
    had to fight fifty four times before he became WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION…..
    Truly the undisputed Champion of his time

  2. bikermike 06:35pm, 07/29/2016

    to be fair….Roy Jones Jr ‘s win over James Toney showed that he was far and above the field of that day

  3. bikermike 06:27pm, 07/29/2016

    I was surprised how well Duran did , against Hagler….Duran was a crafty little fucker….could roll and avoid punches….had two fists..two elbows…two shoulders..and a head that seemed to be a better weapon than his knees

  4. bikermike 06:19pm, 07/29/2016

    HAGLER could only face the guys in front of him….not Sugar Ray Robinson…nor Roy Jones Jr.

    He still got reeeeeeeeemed on that leonard fight, and since leonard wouldn’t honor the rematch clause….Hagler retired.  One of the last of the UNDISPUTED MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD

  5. bikermike 06:09pm, 07/29/2016

    Tony….that’s your opinion…and you’re entitled to it….

    Boogaloo Watts and ‘the worm Munroe both were defeated in later bouts….and the laughable draw anturoformo got was made right when Hagler defeated him later…

    these ‘losses’ were cancelled ....leonard never gave Hagler the agreed upon rematch…in the contract…
    leonard did real good…but not enough to win that title bout

  6. bikermike 04:38pm, 07/29/2016

    HAGLER knew when to get out….JONES continues on…as a shell of his former self
    He’s going to get hurt

  7. bikermike 04:24pm, 07/29/2016

    no comment re fantasy match ups….they didn’t happen

    Hagler went fifty fights before he won the TITLE….tuff sob…got robbed with leonard

  8. bikermike 04:22pm, 07/29/2016

    I was referring to Hagler Hearns…..

  9. bikermike 04:21pm, 07/29/2016

    I always thought Hearns broke his right hand in the first round…It was a great fight…not seen such a fight , on a major title match since

  10. Jethro's Flute 09:37am, 07/14/2016

    Nonpareil, you need to learn the rules of boxing, especially regarding weight divisions.

    Jones weighed in the day before the fight, Hagler the day of the fight.

    Jones has a huge advantage in size over Hagler who fought his career at middleweight and no other division.

    That is why this fantasy match is false.

    If Jones was 15 years older, he’d never have fought Hagler and would have been a light-heavyweight.

  11. The Nonpareil 03:27am, 07/14/2016

    You all sound like ‘playstation analysis.’  Most of you have N E V E R been hit in the mouth, by the way you write and describe.  For starters, RJJ was all speed no technique, he was NOT a willing fighter as a young man, hence never leaving US until regrettable years.  Marv chased middlweight beasts until he got his due and continued thereupon.  Marv’s career is unregrettable and full of integrity ! Has more depth than RJJ’s.  You all clearly don’t comprehend RJJ was troubled by southpaws, never fought or chased his high risk peers.  After narrowly beating Hopkins never saw him again until regrettable stages. The Toney bout was a good win, yes. RJJ is not great. He was good.  RJJ is coser to glitter - than Gladiator. MMH. Gladiator for his iron chin, never been stopped, KO’d those who never been stopped, undefeated in rematches. Uninterrupted Lineal MW King. These describe someone who has taken ‘bodyshots and over came adverdities’ to whether a hypothetical Jones onslaught. Ask RJJ’s father, who was stopped by Marv in 2.  RJJ was never acquired Lineal status-ever!.

    Research folks and mind your manners. Too many people type fast.

    Coach Hilario: sole owner creator designer author of ALL Boxing Ring Chess entities.

  12. Jethro's Flute 02:50pm, 07/04/2015

    Bobbie Watts? The same fighter that Hagler lost to by hometown decision before knocking out in 2 rounds?

  13. TONY 02:36pm, 07/04/2015

    Hagler always had major trouble against anyone who could box well , he was a wooden fighter. The Mike Colbert, Bobbie Watts , Worm Monroe , Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard fights all showed this. Marvin was a counter puncher who was at his best against face first swarmer types and plodding stalkers.

    Marvin wasnt even a very big puncher , Jones easy .

  14. Jethro's Flute 06:41pm, 07/01/2015

    Once again, I repeat the elementary fact that the only thing that links these men is the word MIDDLEWEIGHT.

    The middleweight Roy Jones was already a division heavier than the Middleweight Marvin Hagler so what Looplou is saying is that Roy Jones would make mincemeat of a fighter too small for him.

  15. Looplou 01:11pm, 07/01/2015

    Good grief man! That analysis is way off. Roy not only would confound Marvin, but the shots that Marvin took from Roy would seriously hurt him. I could even see Hagler being dropped by a body shot ala Virgil Hill. Hagler in his prime was a plodder compared to Jones. I just don’t see a comparison. That’s as a Massachusetts native watching Maarvin fight throughout his career, and then watching Roy Jones. Honestly, Din’t think there is a MW in history that could have beat Jones in his prime. Too fast, too powerful, too unhittable. Bad combination for his opponents.

  16. Jethro's Flute 12:15pm, 06/29/2015

    Having given this some thought, I’ve reached the conclusion that Roy Jones would beat Hagler by brutal one-sided kicking.

    He would also do the same to Carlos Monzon and Sugar Ray Robinson. This is because he is a much bigger man than three MIDDLEWEIGHT kings mentioned.

    While Jones held the middleweight title briefly, it was won under different weighing in rules and he quickly moved up to super-middleweight.

    If Jones had fought in the 50’s, 70’s or 80’s, he’d have been fighting at light-heavyweight, a division that Monzon and Hagler never fought at and Robinson fought only once at, against the very light-punching Joey Maxim.

  17. Jethro's Flute 12:08pm, 06/25/2015

    “if Tarver and Johnson and others since then COLDCOCKED Jones so would have Hagler. ” - This is most illogical since the two mentioned were light-heavyweights, not middleweights.

    Not only that, have the weighing in rules not changed since Hagler’s day? Did Hagler not weigh in on the morning of the fight while Jones weighed in the day before?

    As it is, Jones would have a truly enormous advantage in size over Hagler so, if Jones had been born in the same year as the Brockton fighter, the two would have been fighting in different divisions.

    “Jones started to lose to the likes of Tarver, when first, he was at an age that Hagler had already been retired at. ” - A good point

  18. Jim Crue 05:23pm, 06/24/2015

    if Tarver and Johnson and others since then COLDCOCKED Jones so would have Hagler. His chin betrayed him because he fought guys good enough to hit him. Roy and his team knew he had no chin which is why he hand picked opponents ala Floyd. Jones had great athletic ability but a guy with no chin should not be considered an all time great. Hagler was way over the hill when he fought Leonard and I agree with the late ref Lou Fillipo. I thought Hagler won. The WBC criminals were at work that night and anyone who knows boxing realizes that. Take a look at the score cards. Leonard was probably an almost all time great welter but did not have enough fights to get on a serious a time list.

  19. andrew 11:57am, 06/24/2015

    This is not a fantasy fight. It is a potentially fatal nightmare for one of my favourites, Hagler. I believe Marvelous beat Shoe Shine Leonard - Calzaghe’s mentor - but it was close. Jones Jr. was at least as fast and mobile as Leonard and WAY bigger and harder punching.

  20. Johnathan Lee Iverson 12:53am, 06/24/2015

    Roy Jones, Jr. was a monster at that weight. He either decisions Hagler in a lopsided victory or stops him late.

  21. Kid Blast 03:41pm, 06/23/2015

    Nobody ever backed up a prime Jones. A few did back up Hagler. Duran almost beat him doing it. Marcus Geraldo had a very weak chin. Hagler could not put him away because he was backed up. Hagler could never ever make the adjustments Jones could plus Roy was ten times more athletic than Marvin. Hagler had to learn his trade and he became a master craftsman. Jones was born that way.

    Jones was “Oscar Peterson” with boxing gloves.

  22. Cain Bradley 12:03pm, 06/23/2015

    Jones more multi-dimensional than Hagler. Hagler could do it all at a high level. Probably one of his best assets, prime Hagler could beat you in so many ways. I can see how Roy would give Hagler fits but I mention in the article his ability to adapt and fight in different ways. I think that wins him this fight. He would struggle for a while to get Roy to engage with him but he just hit so hard. I am not sure about the chin of Roy, it is not like we saw him takes shots from a Hearns. He was susceptible to good southpaws and Hagler was one of the best at using his booming jab. When I began writing it I had Roy edging a decision by being awkward. The more I watched the more I saw Hagler working him out too quickly to lose. It would not surprise me at all if Jones won one of three. I feel like it would be the first fight though. I think Hagler would in a latter fight potentially come out with a game plan similar to that against Hearns. He would be happy to take the shots of Roy if it meant landing a shot of his own. Roy would not be able to keep the pace or take the constant punishment that Hagler could. The first may see Roy get away with his big fight style which saw him land quick, loopy shots and avoiding punishment. There is a constant ‘but then this would happen’ when I looked at the fight. A final point that I did not actually make in the article would be Jones would no doubt be the lauded one of the pair which would irritate Hagler no end.

  23. Kid Blast 09:54am, 06/23/2015

    Jones beats Hagler 7 days out of 7 days. Too smart and too multi-dimensional.

  24. Eric 08:34am, 06/23/2015

    I LOVE this. I forget which boxing mag back in the day use to feature “fantasy bouts” but they were entertaining. Hagler is one of my favorite fighters of all-time and Jones probably peaked at 168lbs. Hagler probably takes a young middleweight Roy Jones, but it wouldn’t be easy. Jones was quicker than a past his prime Leonard and had more power. Roy Jones’ chin only started betraying him late in his career. Even at 160lbs, it is hard for me to give the nod to Hagler. Jones had the type of style that could give Hagler fits. The big thing in Hagler’s favor would be that at 160lbs, Jones had not reached his peak. Jones definitely was the bigger man, Hagler, despite his muscles, was never really a big middleweight. Interesting matchup.

  25. nicolas 08:09am, 06/23/2015

    I find it hard to believe that Hagler would stop Jones by the seventh round. this is a man who almost lost the title to Roberto Duran. of course one of the issues is that Jones did not stay at Middleweight so long, he was even as I recall a Jr. Middleweight before. He started as well boxing in the pros a little later, winning his first title in 1993, over Bernard Hopkins, no slouch for sure.  I kind of feel that both men deserve to be in the top ten of all time middleweights, Hagler for sure. When we remember the Jone’s loses, we have to remember that the majority came very late in his career. Jones started to lose to the likes of Tarver, when first, he was at an age that Hagler had already been retired at. Also he certainly lost something when he went all the way up to heavyweight, for that one fight with, Ruiz, and then came back down some 25 pounds to light heavyweight. He was never the same, though he also did lose to men older than he. I like Hagler over Jones, but if they fought three times, would feel that Jones would win one of them.

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