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IN KUALA LUMPUR
Marvelous Marvin Hagler – yes, that’s his legal name – knows a thing or two about fighting.
The boxing Hall-of-Famer was a world champion from 1980 to 1987. He won 62 of his 67 bouts, with 52 by way of knockout.
So when Hagler weighed in on the mixed martial arts (MMA) fever gripping the globe today, reporters in the Shangri-La Hotel room in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday were all ears.
“That sport right there, I can’t see any art inside,” said 59-year-old Hagler, who was in Malaysia as a guest of the Laureus World Sports Awards to be held Wednesday evening there. “If you wanna teach a kid how to fight (in MMA), you can just take him to the bar. That’s what it looks like to me.”
The New Jersey, USA native added, “I can’t understand them laying on the floor like that, and the ref don’t get them up. It’s terrible.”
MMA incorporates stand-up striking techniques such as boxing and muay Thai along with the ground grappling methods of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling. Its widespread popularity, spearheaded by promotions like America’s Ultimate Fighting Championship and Asia-based One Fighting Championship, is something Hagler readily admitted to, though at the expense of his beloved boxing.
“It’s really taking off… It’s growing because boxing has been drifting away, so it’s brought that (MMA) into the spotlight,” he said.
The topic of MMA was first raised when Hagler pointed to a dearth of heavyweights in present-day boxing. “Everybody’s hoping we’ll find another heavyweight like Mike Tyson but I don’t think we’re gonna find that,” he lamented.
“Fighters aren’t the same (these days),” he concluded. “They don’t sacrifice enough, they’re not hungry enough… You gotta have that killer instinct and I see a lot of them, they don’t have that.”