Three rounds and out. That is hardly a promoter's dream. The rapid ending of the Hagler-Hearns affair, no matter how rousing the action, was a pox on the long term hopes of Bob Arum who, like every other promoter always is thinking rematch.
Not even the most callous promoter would be so shameless as to put such a thoroughly knocked-out Tommy Hearns back in there with Marvin Hagler. What more does Hagler have to prove? That he can destroy Tommy Hearns a second time and send him back again to the welterweights where he belongs?
The thought of it would be unmixed chutzpah, and contempt for the intelligence of fight fans.
Too lingering would be the final, sorrowful scene of those eight minutes on that night of April 15. Hearns being carried back to his corner like an unmanageable gunnysack by his handlers, a limp lump of semiconscious baggage. The referee hadn't even bothered to count Hearns out. This man is entitled to a rematch?
For solace, Arum could retire to his counting room and tot up his own splendid returns from the event. Nothing like the approximate $5 million dollars for each fighter, but for promoter Arum -- 15 years in boxing and never having drawn on a glove -- the profits that night would be in a nice range of from $2 million to $3 million.
For Arum, it was not the worst of times, even if rematch were a reverie lost. And then, eureka! Rematch! It's possible. It's probable. It's indubitable. Because a Detroit physician made a ruling that is tantamount to an order to Arum to match the fighters again.
The doctor's judgment was that Hearns had fought Hagler with a fractured hand, probably suffered in the first round when he swatted it against Hagler's unyielding skull. Hearns was a handicapped fighter the rest of the way, the embodiment of spirit and courage. Hagler was beating a disabled though valorous foe.
And so Arum now has recaptured his dream. He hasn't said so yet. The announcement will come later. But unless the sun henceforth rises in the West, or truth deceives, they will be rematched as soon as Arum believes the time is ready, in six months or eight, most certainly within the year. For a promoter, a thing like Hagler-Hearns is to be treasured, and restaged.
Never mind the fresh recall of Hearns taking that awful beating from Hagler. Every promoter knows that time will undo the memory of the finish of that one, even as it weakens the memory of many things. And there is now visible evidence that Hearns was, indeed, incapacitated since early in the fight, deprived of the right hand grenade that is his chief weapon. Even so, Hearns gave Hagler the fight of his life that night, until the final hectic second, spurning his corner's cries to, "Box him! Box him!" There were times when he was licking Hagler at his own game, and one judge scored the savage first round in Hearns' favor. There is no need to obliterate all the memory of Hagler-Hearns 1.
As proof that Hearns fought with grievous wounds, he is going around now with a cast on his right hand to protect two fractured fingers that have been reset by the doctor. Oh, how much Arum will make of that condition when he begins to pump up the rematch. The man deserves another shot at Hagler. How can Hearns be denied a second chance? Simple justice says it should be arranged.
Arum will be willing to arrange it. Hagler and Hearns, certainly will want to do it again with all those millions out there to be collected again. No matter that Hearns, even when he bravely returned last Monday night to the postfight news conference, went into a near-faint and had to be led away by handlers who feared collapse after their man had answered only one question. Time dissolves such recollections, and Hearns will be certain to resume once again the bravado he brought to the first fight. By that broken hand suffered by Hearns, Arum was delivered from the dismay of every promoter: no return match. And in this case, he has a leg up on any other promoter, the likes of Don King, who would try to move in on him.
When asked about his relationship with the Hagler camp before the fight, Arum said, "I have a paper on him for his next defense." That means he has Hagler under contract. Not surprising, this. It was Arum who took Hagler into the big money, after Hagler's years of fighting for peanuts. Hagler's loyalty to Arum is intense.
Arum has no paper on Hearns, but that is of no concern. Only against Hagler is there big money for Hearns, and Arum controls the champion. Does Arum have the arguments to fetch Hearns into the ring against Hagler again? Money is such an obedient servant. And as soon as Hearns gets the cast off, here comes the inevitable build-up for Hagler-Hearns 2.