Marvin Hagler vs. Fulgencio Obelmejias (1st meeting)

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Hagler throws a right hook at Obelmejias

1981-01-17 : Marvin Hagler 159½ lbs beat Fulgencio Obelmejias 159½ lbs by TKO at 0:20 in round 8 of 15

  • WBA & WBC Middleweight Titles (1st defense by Hagler)

By Michael Katz, New York Times, January 18, 1981

BOSTON, Jan. 17— After he had scored an eighth-round technical knockout in the first defense of the middleweight championship, Marvin Hagler still didn't know too much about "what's his name? Fully Obel?" For instance, Hagler said, "I didn't know what was keeping him up."

Whatever kept Fulgencio Obelmejias of Venezuela erect kept him there only to absorb more and more Hagler combinations. But the challenger said he fought with what might have been a broken right hand from the second round on and with a three-day cold.

"I'd like another opportunity to show you what I am,'" he said through an interpreter after the one-sided fight. He did show courage and a chin. Only a comparatively light right hook to the body and left uppercut to the chin midway through the sixth round floored Obelmejias. The hard stuff he took standing until finally, at 20 seconds of the eighth round, Octavio Meyran, the referee of the second Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran fight, ended it, saying, "No mas, no mas."

Obelmejias somehow got to be the No. 1 contender in both the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council, which agree that Hagler is the 160-pound champion and on few other subjects. The 28-year-old Venezuelan had been undefeated in 30 fights, with 28 knockouts, but "he never fought a Marvin Hagler," said Marvin Hagler.

Hagler had figured that Obelmejias could not possibly be any higher than fourth in the ranking. But he was not taking any chances with a man with 28 knockouts in 30 fights. '"I took my time in there," the champion conceded after he scored the 42d knockout of a career that now shows 51 victories, two avenged losses and two draws.

This was Boston's first title bout since Paul Pender defeated Terry Downes for the middleweight title in 1962, and Hagler was in no rush to end it in the first round, the only one he did not win on the official scorecards. It took Hagler until last Sept. 27, when he defeated Alan Minter in three bloody rounds in London, to win the title a lot of people thought he deserved years earlier. The 28-year-old Brockton, Mass., fighter, who weighed in at 159 1/2 pounds, the same as Obelmejias, merely measured the 6-foot-1-inch challenger in the opening round, which was scored even by the referee and both judges.

Hagler took control with combinations from the southpaw stance in the second round although Obelmejias said it was because of the injury to his right hand. He hurt the hand, he said, throwing a right hand off the shaved skull of the champion. But that punch was probably blocked by Hagler, who is an artist at self-defense.

Obelmejias was also gasping for air because of his cold. His wife, Mabel, one of several hundred Venezuelans in the crowd of about 10,000 at Boston Garden, said he had not slept much last night because of it.

Hagler began clearing his head in the third round, staggering Obelmejias three steps backward into the ropes with a straight left. In the fourth round, Hagler moved inside against his opponent, who was 3 1/2 inches taller, and landed some frightening blows. But Obelmejias took them and even punched back.

Hagler's punches were coming from all angles in the fifth round, but when it appeared he might be applying the finishing touches, Obelmejias rallied again briefly. Hagler switched, as he does on occasion, into an orthodox stance and hurt Obelmejias some more.

He knocked him down in the sixth, but at the start of the seventh round, Hagler seemed cautious, as if he were pacing himself. Later, he would say he was waiting for his second wind. Obelmejias, meanwhile, said he was getting "the air I needed."

In any case, it briefly appeared that Obelmejias, landing with his swollen right hand, might make a fight of it. But Hagler landed some vicious overhand right hooks and by the end of the round Obelmejias was staggering again.

Combinations came in combinations at the start of the eighth round and with Obelmejias clearly in trouble in the middle of the ring, Meyran stopped the bout. [1]

Preceded by:
Minter vs. Hagler
WBA Middleweight Title Fight
# 41
WBC Middleweight Title Fight
# 41
Succeeded by:
Hagler vs. Antuofermo II