Marvin Hagler vs Canelo Alvarez – Who Would Win?
Since the beginning of human existence we have engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Fighting is a universal language all cultures and nationalities understand. Boxing, in particular, has been an Olympic sport since 688 BC when it was performed in ancient Greece. About 300-500 years ago boxing evolved from its origins into prize fighting. After the creation of the London Prize Ring Rules, the sport evolved into the more popularly known Queensbury Rules system. Throughout the sport’s history there have been a plethora of greats in every decade of the sport’s existence.
A prevailing question throughout time as been, “Can fighter ‘X’ beat fighter ‘Y’ in each of their prime?” This is the sixth entry in the series. We will take a look arguably two of the greatest middleweight in history as Marvelous Marvin Hagler battles Canelo Alvarez. If you missed previous entries, click them below to see what you have missed so far in the series.
First Entry in Series: Mike Tyson vs Deontay Wilder
Second Entry in Series: Ezzard Charles vs Roy Jones Jr
Third Entry in Series: Roberto Duran vs Vasyl Lomachenko
Fourth Entry in Series: Henry Armstrong vs Manny Pacquiao
Fifth Entry in Series: Jack Johnson vs Tyson Fury
Marvin Hagler (1980’s) vs Canelo Alvarez (2010’s-Present)
Marvin Hagler-Brief Glance
Marvelous Marvin Hagler (62-3-2; 52KOs) was born May 23, 1954 in Newark, New Jersey. His professional career spanned about 14 years which is close to five fights a year. And yes, his name is actually “Marvelous Marvin Hagler.” In 1982 he had his name legally changed. Hagler was not happy with the lack of use by commentators of his nickname, “Marvelous.” Hagler dropped out of school in the 9th grade and took up boxing late in his teen years, eventually winning the 1973 Amateur Athletic Union middleweight title.
Argued by many as the greatest middleweight ever, he reigned as the undisputed middleweight world champion from 1980 to 1987. During that tenure Hagler defended the undisputed title 12 times, second most all-time only behind heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko. He also earned 13 unified championship victories, which is third all-time. Differing from MMA, a fighter can be the champion to different sanctioning bodies. In the world of boxing, a “unified” champion has two of the four major sanctioning body world titles. The “undisputed” champion owns all the titles.
Hagler was one of the pound for pound best of the 1980’s and has the accolades to show. He was named Boxing Illustrated’s Fighter of the Decade for the 1980’s. Hagler also earned The Ring 1983 and 1985 Fighter of the Year awards along with The Ring 1985 Fight of the Year for his epic battle with Thomas Hearns. They also won Round of the Year for their non-stop action first round. In his first year of eligibility in 1993, Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing and World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Hagler had the odd style of being a right-handed fighter taught to box southpaw. He was able to fluidly switch among the two styles during bouts at a moments notice. As a result, it made his jab a lot heavier and packed more of a punch than your typical southpaw boxer. He used a great deal of feints, especially against taller opponents, to earn the opportunity to unleash his powerful jab. Though his strikes were heavy and powerful, he can’t be mistaken for a “brawler.” Hagler was absolutely a legitimate boxer. In addition to his amazing jab, Hagler had a very solid chin. Especially in his later fights, he started to depend more on his chin and landing heavy shots. Due to such skill in the ring, it was difficult for Hagler to find opponents early in his career. Joe Frazier told Hagler this is why he believes he was unable to find fights, “You’re black, you’re a southpaw, and you’re good.”
Canelo Alvarez-Brief Glance
Santos Saul Alvarez (Canelo Alvarez) was born July 18, 1990 (36 years after Hagler) in Gudalajara, Mexico. The orthodox fighters come from a family of fighters with all brothers competing in the sport as well. On June 28, 2008, all seven of the Alvarez boys competed on the same card going 4-3 as a family. Oldest brother Rigoberto Alvarez is a former WBA World Light Middleweight champion. Alvarez started boxing at the age of 13, seeing the success of brother Rigoberto and turned professional at the age of 15. By far the most successful of the Alvarez siblings, Canelo currently owns a record of 53-1-2 (36KOs) with a career which started with a fourth round TKO in 2005 at age 15. Alvarez earned a professional record of 20-0-1 before he even turned 18 years of age.
Alvarez dropped out of school and went full steam ahead into a life of boxing. It has seemed to pay off financially with Alvarez signing a $365 million 11 fight deal with DAZN. According to Forbes as of July 2019, Alvarez as a net worth upwards around $94 million. Due to starting at such a young age professionally, Alvarez inevitably became the youngest super welterweight champion at 20 years and 230 days when he defeated Matthew Hatton on March 05, 2011.
With several more years of top shelf action still in him, Alvarez already sports a full trophy case. He is the current lineal middleweight champion and has been so since 2018. According to The Ring, Boxing Writer’s Association of America (BWAA), and Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) Alvarez is the number one pound for pound fighter in the world as of publication of this article. He has held world championships in four different weight divisions. Alvarez was recently named The Ring 2019 Fighter of the Year. In addition, he has won The Ring Fight of the Year award in 2018 for the rematch with GGG. Showcasing his power, Alvarez is a two-time winner of The Ring Knockout of the Year winning in both 2015 and 2016 for his knockouts of James Kirkland and Amir Khan respectively. Alvarez also walked away with Sports Illustrated’s Fighter of the Year for 2019.
Alvarez doesn’t use your typical “Mexican style” for a Mexican fighter. The “Mexican style” often describes the aggressive, hard nosed style many Mexican fighters used. The fighter is typically the aggressor and the big punch is always a split second away. The part of the style that Alvarez adapts very well is the use of deadly body hooks. Alvarez is more so a counter-striker with amazing speed on defense. His head movement and footwork allows him to get in on taller opponents, dodge their jab, and fire off his own attack. This was demonstrated such in his most recent light heavyweight title bout with Sergey Kovalev who had nearly a three inch height advantage.
Former IBF middleweight champion, Daniel Jacobs, stated comparing Alvarez’s style to that of GGG (Gennady Golovkin), “I found Canelo to be a little bit more slippery, trickier but less active as far as pressure and punch output,” Jacobs told Eddie Hearn, Matchroom USA Boxing president, during a Q&A video chat on April 01, 2020. “I think Canelo was just worried about being a counterpuncher and fighting in spots. It could have been more of an entertaining fight — me and Canelo — but I just think that the GGG fight was probably the tougher (bout).”
This is the fight you want when you think of clashing styles. If Hagler comes out the way he did in the Hearns battle, it would be an absolute feast for someone like Alvarez who lives off of the counter-strike. Hagler has an amazing chin and is aware he will eat some punches to execute his plan. Both fighters have an amazing jab and the ability to land devastating shots to the body. Alvarez had a bit of an issue with GGG using an aggressive, in your face style, similar to how I believe Hagler would fight. Hagler showed us he could do it against Hearns so no reason why he could not against Alvarez. It’s really hard to pick a winner in this one when you have two middleweights who were/are as dominant as possible at their respective skill sets in their respective eras.