One of the greatest - tributes flood in for Marvin Hagler

Tributes from around the sporting world flooded in yeaterday following the death of former undisputed world middleweight champion ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler at the age of 66.

TRUE CHAMPION: Marvin Hagler celebrates after defeating Wilford Scypion for the WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles in May 1983, winning with a fourth round knock-out. Picture: Focus on Sport/Getty Images.

Hagler had ruled the division from 1979, but was dethroned following a controversial defeat by Sugar Ray Leonard in April 1987.

His wife Kay announced the news on Saturday night, writing on the official Marvelous Marvin Hagler Fan Club Facebook page: “I am sorry to make a very sad announcement. Today unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire.”

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Former WBA and lineal featherweight world champion Barry McGuigan led the tributes, writing on Twitter: “Shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the incredible Marvellous Marvin Hagler.

END GAME: Sugar Ray Leonard, right, and Marvin Hagler fight for the WBC and Ring Middleweight titles in April 1987 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Leonard won the fight in 12 rounds on a split decision. Picture: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

“I’m honoured to have spent some amazing times with him. My heartfelt sympathies to his wife Kay and his family. Rest in Peace Champ.”

Eleven-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya said he was “saddened” by Hagler’s death, adding: “One of the greatest to ever step in the ring!”

Promoter Frank Warren said on Twitter: “Boxing lost an all time great today.”

New Jersey southpaw Hagler was only knocked down once during his professional career and defended his middleweight crown 12 times.

LEGEND: 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler signs the Nelson Mandela wall during the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards. Picture: Christian Alminana/Getty Images.

In September 1980, Hagler fought Alan Minter at Wembley Stadium, winning by a stoppage in the third round – after the British boxer was badly cut – to claim his first world title.

During 1985, Hagler took on Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, which he won in three brutal rounds of a contest which became known as “The War”.

Hagler took on Leonard in April 1987, a boxer who had retired twice and not fought for almost three years.

Leonard took victory on a split decision, and then retired immediately again afterwards, denying Hagler a rematch in the process.

ENDURANCE: Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler battle for the WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles in November 1983 at Caesars Palace - Hagler won the fight in 15 rounds on a unanimous decision. Picture: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Hagler retired from boxing in June 1988, with a record of 62 wins, two draws and three defeats.

In 2019, Hagler said he hoped in his lifetime the sport would return to one world champion per division.

He said: “I hope that before I pass that they restore this game and bring it back to only one champion in the world.

“They have these three or four belts, I was only looking for one. Years ago, guys like Carlos Monzon, Bennie Briscoe, Emile Griffith, all of us were fighting for one belt.

“Now you’ve got the WBA, the WBC, the IBF (and the WBO) - they say it’s like the alphabet boys.

“If (a fighter) loses a fight or loses a belt, they can always go to another organisation and try for that belt.

“It should be exciting if they bring back one champion (per division).”

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