Manny Pacquiao has declared his boxing career is over although the head of his promotional team moved to dispel retirement talk.

The 42-year-old southpaw lost to Yordenis Ugas last month, with many predicting that would end up being his last fight.

Pacquiao had on Sunday announced his intention to run for the Philippines presidency next year.

The former eight-weight world champion told Toni Talks that he is done with boxing.

"My boxing career is already over," Pacquiao said.

"It's done because I've been in boxing for a long time and my family says that it is enough."

However, Pacquiao's head of promotions Sean Gibbons moved to water down any retirement talk just yet.

"The Senator is a presidential candidate and has made no decision on his boxing career yet," Gibbons told Yahoo Sports.

"He will in the next few weeks make a final decision whether to have one more or retire."

Pacquiao had not fought competitively for more than two years prior to last month's WBA welterweight defeat to Ugas.

The Filipino has a 62-8-2 professional boxing record, with 39 wins by knockout.

Manny Pacquiao's return to the ring has ended in a unanimous resolution defeat to Yordenis Ugas in their world welterweight title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The 42-year-old Filipino was making his return to boxing for the first time since beating Keith Thurman in July 2019, going in as favourite against Ugas, who is seven years younger.

The Cuban, who took the fight on 11 days' notice following Errol Spence Jr's withdrawal due to an eye injury, used his jab wisely along with his agility and counter game.

Pacquiao appeared to lack his trademark speed and power while Ugas ensured he owned the middle of the ring early.

Ugas was awarded the unanimous decision victory 115-113, 116-112, 116-112 to defend the welterweight title which the World Boxing Association stripped from Pacquiao for "inactivity" earlier this year.

The victory improved Ugas' professional record to 27-4, while Pacquiao slips to 62-2-8, prompting discussion about his future in boxing given his age.

"I don’t know," Pacquiao said when asked about retiring after the fight. "Let me rest first and relax and make a decision if I continue to fight."

Pacquiao's work rate increased as the fight wore on, throwing better punches as the Cuban remained disciplined with his tactics.

Ugas' pinpoint right-hand hits troubled the Filipino throughout and he closed the fight strongly after a wild 10th round.

"It was a hard time, making an adjustment about his style and I think that was the problem for me because I didn’t make an adjustment," Pacquiao said.

"I congratulate my opponent Yordenis Ugas for making it tough tonight and winning tonight. That's boxing."

The fight was relatively even but Ugas insisted he deserved the win.

"A lot of respect for him, but I won the fight," Ugas said.

Manny Pacquiao is a man on a mission as he attempts to reclaim the WBA 'super' welterweight belt he was riled to relinquish.

The Filipino superstar tackles Cuban defector Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas in a title bout on Saturday night, gently teasing it might be his last fight.

That seems unlikely, given the 42-year-old expressed such an obvious hunger for more success in the pre-fight news conference.

But Pacquiao might have to think seriously about his future should Ugas spring a huge surprise after being called into the main event at late notice.

Pacquiao was meant to face Errol Spence Jr, but the American withdrew from the bout with a torn retina in his left eye.

Spence's stand-in Ugas was promoted to be recognised as the WBA's champion when Pacquiao was controversially stripped of his title in January, relegated to champion-in-recess status due to inactivity.

Now raring to go, two years since he last fought, with COVID-19 pandemic factors largely the cause of his absence, Pacquiao said he "felt bad" about Spence's setback.

"But it's a good thing that Ugas wanted to challenge me in the ring, and a good thing we can settle the dispute about the WBA belt. It will be good for us to talk in the ring, settle down in the ring on Saturday," Pacquiao told a news conference.

"I feel young. I'm just happy doing this. Boxing is my passion and I'm enjoying doing the training camp and excited to undergo the sacrifices and discipline especially to prepare for a fight like this.

"The coaching staff were trying to stop me, because I wanted to do more but they told me I might get over-trained."

Speaking at Friday's weigh-in, Pacquiao added: "I don't want to be taking this fight lightly. I don't want to be over-confident for this fight, but I want to make sure that tomorrow night we get a victory. I will do my best. I will give my best for my fans and of course the honour of my country."

Ugas, who won a bronze medal for Cuba at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, majorly troubled Shawn Porter in a WBC title fight in March 2019, and he wants to show there is merit in him owning the WBA belt.

Pacquiao feels disenchanted by the WBA's decision, saying it was "not good" that he had been stripped of that title out of the ring.

"Let's see if he will get the belt on Saturday. Both of us are champions," Pacquiao said this week. "It might be my last fight or there's more, one at a time. That's my answer to the question of whether it's my last fight."

Ahead of the tussle as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Ugas said: "This has been a long road for me. It's a short-notice fight but I'm thankful for this opportunity and I'm ready.

"I have come to prepare for 12 hard rounds. If this is the final fight that the legend Manny Pacquiao has, [I want to show] that he fought against a guy who brought his best and who is a world-class fighter."

RECENT HISTORY

Pacquiao has had a busy time of it, but not so much in the boxing ring. The coronavirus crisis has kept him occupied in his day job as a senator in the Philippines, where some expect him to make a bid to become president next year, a move that would surely end his boxing career. Pacquiao has made allegations of corruption in government, which have been denied, as he pulls no punches in his second career.

'PacMan' last fought against Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand in July 2019, where Ugas won on the undercard. Ugas has since had a seventh-round stoppage win over Mike Dallas Jr and a split-decision victory against Abel Ramos.

TALE OF THE TAPE

MANNY PACQUIAO

Age: 42
Height: 5ft 5.5ins (166cm) 
Weight: 146 lbs
Reach: 67 ins
Professional record: 62-7-2 (39 KOs) 
Major career titles: Eight-division world champion

YORDENIS UGAS

Age: 35
Height: 5ft 9ins (175cm) 
Weight: 147 lbs
Reach: 69 ins
Professional record: 26-4 (12 KOs) 
Major career titles: Holder of WBA 'super' welterweight belt

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

Joshua had been in negotiations to face Tyson Fury in an all-British blockbuster but an arbitration hearing ruled Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face the WBC champion for a third time.

Fury and Wilder's trilogy showdown was set to take place this weekend before the 'Gypsy King' tested positive for coronavirus.

That bout has now been shifted to October 9 in Las Vegas, meaning Joshua will have another chance to impress before his heavyweight rivals step out again.

That is not to say looking ahead to future contests would be wise for the 31-year-old, given the exceptionally skilled Usyk is intent on cleaning up at heavyweight as he did in the 200lbs division and boasts a professional record of 18 victories and no defeats.

Joshua avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz with a lopsided points win over the Mexican-American in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019. The sole defence of his second reign as champion came with a dominant ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, before Joshua's latest period of Fury-based frustration began.

Usyk has previously enjoyed success in the UK, both when he knocked out Tony Bellew in his final fight at cruiserweight and outpointed the veteran Dereck Chisora last year.

The Ukrainian also won heavyweight gold at London 2012, where Joshua triumphed at super-heavyweight. Indeed, this will be the first professional meeting between men who won Olympic gold medals in those respective categories.

"We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges," Joshua said.

"The stadium is exceptional, the atmosphere will be electric. I'm honoured to be the first person to fight in such an awe-inspiring venue. The stage is set and I am ready to handle business."

Joshua's stadium shows have become a fixture of UK boxing in the modern era.

He stopped Wladimir Klitschko in a thrilling Wembley contest in April 2017 before a September 2018 KO of Alexander Povetkin at the same venue – a fight for which Usyk was in attendance.

In between those triumphs, he beat Carlos Takam and then-WBO champion Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

In his sole remarks around the fight announcement, Usyk cryptically said: "The path will be mastered by the walking one."

Eddie Hearn has confirmed that September 25 will be the date for Anthony Joshua's fight with Oleksandr Usyk.

The WBO ordered Joshua to step into the fight with former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk as a proposed all-British heavyweight battle with Tyson Fury fell through.

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua was due to take on Fury in Saudi Arabia in August before a court arbitration in the United States ruled the WBC strap-holder must face Deontay Wilder for a third time.

With Fury and Wilder III set to be staged in Las Vegas on July 24, Joshua (24-1) will come up against Ukrainian Usyk (18-0) two months later.

Joshua's promoter Hearn did not reveal a venue for the bout, but revealed during an Instagram live chat: "Working towards September 18 or September 25."

The Matchroom boss added: "Joshua-Usyk announcement? Don't want to say two weeks, 'cos you guys are bored of me saying that, but soon - September 25 is the date."

Joshua this week vowed a showdown with Fury is still on the cards.

"Unfortunately, his [Fury's] team let the whole boxing world down," Joshua told Sky Sports. "I will still be here, still ready to put on a show.

"[The Fury fight can happen at the] end of the year. Let me get past Usyk first. But with or without Usyk in my life, I will fight Fury.

"Usyk isn't the be-all and end-all. Usyk doesn't determine the Fury fight. The Fury fight has to happen. It's a big fight, bigger than boxing, bigger than the belts.

"It will happen. After the Usyk fight, after I defend my belts. The fight will be bigger, better than what it would have been."

Josh Taylor is ready to "ride the wave" after becoming the fifth undisputed world champion of the four-belt era – and that could mean facing Terence Crawford and, he hopes, fighting at Edinburgh Castle.

A mammoth clash between Taylor and Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas on Saturday saw the Briton twice knock down his opponent.

Those blows were pivotal in a unanimous but tight points win that saw all three judges score the bout 114-112 in Taylor's favour.

The 30-year-old protected his WBA and IBF light welterweight titles and added Ramirez's WBC and WBO straps.

Since 2004, only four other boxers have held the four major belts at once – Oleksandr Usyk, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor and Crawford – and Taylor could now face one of them.

Crawford was the undisputed champion in the same division in 2017 after beating Julius Indongo, before vacating his titles to move up to welterweight.

It is a move Taylor (18-0) could repeat in order to face the undefeated American, who now holds the WBO strap at 147 pounds.

"I think two undisputed champions going at it at 147lb would be awesome, would be amazing," Taylor said.

"I'm not going to be short of options now; every fight is going to be huge. We'll take it and see what comes my way. We'll just ride the wave."

The locations of potential future fights are as exciting to Taylor as the opponents, though.

'The Tartan Tornado' was born in Prestonpans but has not fought in Edinburgh since November 2017.

His place in history secure, Taylor, a Hibernian fan, would now be keen to arrange a title bout either at Easter Road or the "iconic" Edinburgh Castle.

"Now is the time to get that fight at Edinburgh Castle or Easter Road," he said.

"I know Easter Road are going to be up for having me there and they've said it to me a few times.

"But I'd love to fight at Edinburgh Castle. I just think that would be iconic with the castle lit up in the background."

Eddie Hearn is preparing to push on with finding an alternative opponent for Anthony Joshua if Tyson Fury's team are unable to "get their act together" by the end of the week.

Heavyweight rivals Joshua and Fury had appeared set for a huge showdown in Saudi Arabia on August 14, only for an arbitration ruling involving Deontay Wilder to potentially scupper that plan.

While Joshua holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, Fury claimed the WBC title from the previously unbeaten Wilder in their February 2020 rematch following a draw in their initial bout.

On Monday, a judge in the United States ruled that the dethroned champion had the right to face the Briton for a third time before September 15, casting huge doubt over the unification clash scheduled for a month earlier.

With the possibility of Fury no longer being available, Hearn is ready to look elsewhere for his fighter. Oleksandr Usyk – the mandatory challenger for Joshua's WBO strap – is a possibility, though the promoter plans to make sure he has more than one option on the table.

"I've been focused on plan A. The only fight we had in mind was Tyson Fury," Hearn said in an in-depth interview aired on the Matchroom Boxing YouTube channel on Tuesday.

"We hope that fight can still take place on August 14, but the game changed last night. We have to have a plan B in place – and possibly a plan C as well.

"We have a couple of different options. Of course, the one that springs to mind is the WBO mandatory of Oleksandr Usyk. They have been quite patient and, really, we're in a situation now where if team Fury don't get their act together by the end of this week, we will have no option but to look for an alternative fight.

"AJ wants to fight this summer, Oleksandr Usyk is the mandatory and we have two or three other options as well."

Hearn revealed how fellow promoter Bob Arum, who is part of Fury's team, had been "very bullish" over the hearing not being a potential roadblock in the way of the lucrative summer fight with Joshua.

"I think he was in complete and utter shock – and I don't think I've ever really heard him speechless," Hearn said of his conversation with Arum.

"He's been very bullish throughout this whole process that – and I know it's their business and we don't know too much about the contracts or the case – this wouldn't be a problem, this wouldn't stand in the way of an Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury fight.

"That's quite frustrating. We've been working tirelessly to get this over the line. He was almost shell-shocked, I think. Once he'd calmed down and done what he had to do, I think the move was then to speak to the other side and see if there's a resolution.

"We can't be involved in that, we can't control that process, but as far as I understand it, Tyson Fury wants to fight Anthony Joshua and we had the deal to do so on August 14 in Saudi Arabia. I spoke to our partners in Saudi Arabia and they were not best pleased either.

"I think the conversations are ongoing, but from our point of view we have to get our own side in order and make our plans. Hopefully, they can resolve the issue and we can move forward with the August 14 fight. It's over to them."

Asked if he still remained hopeful over that August bout going ahead, Hearn replied: "I hope it does, because we've grafted away for four or five months to make this happen, and we've got a fantastic deal in place for a legacy fight for a huge amount of money.

"I hope, hope [it goes ahead], but hopeful? I don't know. Everything we were told from the get-go was that this arbitration issue wouldn't be a problem. It obviously is a problem now and we have to think on our feet, act accordingly.

"We still hope that the fight can go ahead, but that's completely out of our hands.

"We know what we want to do: we want to win the undisputed world championship and fight Tyson Fury. But, really, if his hands are tied, we have to look elsewhere."

Anthony Joshua declared there is "no place to hide" for Tyson Fury after the first official offer to stage their heavyweight unification fight was lodged.

Promoter Eddie Hearn last week revealed he plans to present "three or four offers" to the respective teams of Joshua and Fury for an eagerly awaited unification bout.

Negotiations over a blockbuster showdown between the British duo have been ongoing for several months, with Hearn revealing a two-fight deal has been signed.

WBA, WBO and IBF champion Joshua has provided a positive update as he eyes Fury's WBC belt.

"Positive news this evening! I'm lacing up my running boots rn [sic]!!!" Joshua posted on social media.

"@258MGT and @Matchroomboxing have received the first official offer to host the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Of The WORLD! I will be victorious God Willing!

"No place to hide now! IM [sic] COMING."

John Fury - Tyson's father – recently expressed his concerns over the ongoing negotiations in an interview with Boxing Social, citing the financial difficulties due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hearn, Joshua's promoter, tweeted on Sunday: "Busy day today and a long night ahead!"

Eddie Hearn plans to present "three or four offers" to the respective teams of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for their heavyweight showdown – and he remains confident the bout will happen.

The British rivals have yet to finalise a date or destination for the first of potentially two fights between the pair in 2021.

Fury - who holds the WBC belt following his impressive win over Deontay Wilder - tweeted a picture saying "the clock is ticking" on Wednesday, along with the words "three days left".

Meanwhile, John Fury - Tyson's father – aired his concerns over the ongoing negotiations in an interview with Boxing Social, citing the financial difficulties in the current climate following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, promoter Hearn has made clear there are proposals ready to be put on the table before he leaves each side to work out which is the best option available.

"At the end of this week, both fighters and the teams will be presented with all the offers and options on the table, of which there will be multiple ones," Hearn told Sky Sports.

"We're in a good place. I saw John Fury's comments. It's almost like they don't really want the fight. I'd like them to talk it up, rather than talk it down.

"We're quite aware that there has been a global pandemic. We're quite aware that it's not easy, but we're out there grafting away every day to get this done. A little support would be nice, John and Tyson, thank you very much.

"But there will be three or four offers presented to both camps this weekend, then it's over to them to discuss which one they want to take.

"It is a summer fight, that's everything we are working towards. I'm as confident as ever that this gets done.

"I know that there are some negative people out there and people that believe we can't pull it off, but we spend a lifetime pulling things off. I believe we will get this done, and I believe you will see this fight in the summer."

Joshua is the reigning WBA, WBO and IBF champion, having successfully defended his titles with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

The unbeaten Fury, meanwhile, has not fought since his rematch with Wilder in Las Vegas in February 2020.

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

The hurdles to overcome in getting to this point were not inconsiderable, with Fury working under a co-promotional deal with Frank Warren and Bob Arum's Top Rank, both of whom have rival broadcasting agreements to Hearn's contracts with Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN globally.

Fury's most recent bouts have been aired by BT Sport in his homeland and via ESPN in the United States.

The expectation of ongoing coronavirus restrictions makes the prospect of at least the first fight taking place on British soil feel far-fetched, with a return of heavyweight title boxing to the Middle East – where Joshua avenged his only career defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr with a December 2019 points win in Saudi Arabia – appearing most likely.

"I actually feel we've done the hard part," Hearn said. "Speaking for myself, Anthony and his team at 258 management, I know how hard we've worked hard these last couple of months and I just feel that this fight is so big it's not a difficult sell.

"We've already had approaches from eight or nine sites. The offers have come from multiple countries in the Middle East, from Asia, eastern Europe and America.

"This is the biggest fight in boxing and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It will be a major, major win for a country that wants to showcase itself."

Some typically idiosyncratic interviews from Fury over recent days, where he stated he had no interest in boxing in the UK again, while claiming to have stopped training in favour of "concentrating on getting me 10 pints of Stella", appeared to cast some doubt upon the Joshua fights getting over the line – especially considering the 32-year-old's previously well-documented struggles with alcohol and depression.

"You never really know with Tyson," Hearn said. "It could be mind games. He could be having a bad day. He could be a little p***** off. Or he could be having a joke.

"One of the fascinations about this fight will be the build-up because they're two totally different characters, two totally different personalities. The mind games will be on another level for this fight. Tyson is very good at that.

"Anthony is excited by that. He's so pumped, so focused, he hasn't stopped training since the Pulev fight. He's like a caged lion. The build-up is going to be epic."

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

Whenever boxing's matchmakers put together a bout that promises fireworks and destructive drama from the opening bell, pundits and fans alike spit out the same three syllables.

Hagler-Hearns.

Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns shared seven minutes and 52 seconds of unfathomable brutality in Las Vegas in April 1985, setting an impossible bar for every all-action fight ever since.

Hagler and Hearns met in their primes as two stars of a golden age in the sport's middle weights. The celebrated "Four Kings" were completed by fellow greats 'Sugar' Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

There were nine fights in all between the quartet, spanning 1980 to 1989. Leonard and Duran met three times, with both men going the distance against Hagler. Hearns and Leonard shared 26 rounds over the course of two enthralling bouts separated by almost eight years.

And yet, the comparatively brief period Hearns and Hagler spent in one another's violent orbit stands as the high watermark of the era for many.

After Hagler died aged 66 on Saturday, we look back at three rounds that shook the world.

 

ROUND ONE

An elongated promotional tour taking in 21 cities whipped up severe animosity between the two fighters, with long-reigning unified middleweight king Hagler brooding over the perceived higher public standing afforded to fellow Americans Leonard and Hearns, along with the latter's withdrawal from their proposed 1982 meeting with a hand injury.

Hearns had showcased terrifying power at welterweight and light-middleweight. He demolished Duran inside two rounds in 1984, at the same Caesars Palace outdoor arena that staged his clash with Hagler.

Therefore, the expectations were of a measured start from the older man, who would draw the sting from a 26-year-old Hearns at a then-unfamiliar weight before taking him into deep waters.

Hagler was not reading from that script.

After eyeballing his foe throughout the introductions, he tore out of his corner at the opening bell and unleashed a wild and winging right hand that Hearns just managed to duck. The tone was set and there would be no let-up.

Hagler's gameplan – insofar as it could be deciphered from underneath the red mist – was to negate Hearns' three-inch reach advantage by attacking the younger man to the body.

Initially, that was a march straight into trouble as Hearns caught him with a left hand coming in and followed up with a right hook to shake Hagler.

The champion held for the briefest of respites before leather began to fly in centre ring – Hagler unleashing his chopping left hook and locating Hearns' chin to force a retreat to the neutral corner.

Hurt, Hearns shot back under heavy fire to escape the peril Hagler had planned on the ropes.

There was a minute gone.

The hunter and hunted patter was established. Hearns clipped Hagler with a left off the back foot to draw him on to a short right. Worryingly for the 'Motor City Cobra', 'Marvellous' was entirely unperturbed.

Hagler's booming straight right was working effectively, but Hearns' blurring fists continued to punctuate a fight in fast forward. A pair of rights found the jaw, still Hagler came. A flashing uppercut, still he came. But there was blood. A lot of it.

"There's blood all over Marvin Hagler's face, I can't tell where it's coming from," yelped commentator Al Bernstein

Seemingly spurred on by the change in circumstances, Hagler forced Hearns into the red corner and got to work, pounding the body. Hearns was sharp in the eye of the storm, soaking up two crunching left hooks and fighting his way out of trouble.

Well, until that unerring Hagler straight right sent him tottering backwards with nine seconds left in the round. By the time the bell sounded, they were trading once more.

Hearns landed 56 of 83 punches in the first round as Hagler connected with 50 of 82. It still beggars belief.

ROUND TWO

"Don't worry about the cut, Marvin," said his cornerman Goody Petronelli, unknowing that there were bigger problems afoot on the other stood.

At some point in the fury of the first three minutes, Hearns had broken his wrecking ball right. This perhaps explained his willingness to begin the second on the jab – that tool of relative conservatism largely lost in the maelstrom of round one.

Hagler met this adjustment with a change of his own. The switch-hitter turned to an orthodox stance for the first time in the fight and landed with a left-right combination.

Regardless, there would be no backwards step from Hagler. Back he went to southpaw, a right jab leaving Hearns disorganised and opening up more opportunities to the body.

A straight right was Hearns' retort along with crisp lefts to head and body, but Hagler shrugged them off and continued to bore forwards with blood all over the place.

His left hook was working like a dream and shuddering rights had Hearns in trouble on the ropes.

When the bell sounded, Hagler's bloody mask and Hearns' exhausted body gave both men the look of beaten fighters.

ROUND THREE

"Just box him, stay away and box him," Emanuel Steward implored Hearns, although the great tactician had reason to sense the bout was slipping away.

Aghast, Steward found one of Hearns' entourage giving him a leg massage before the fight. Combined with the concussive head shots Hagler had landed at will, the result was rubbery limbs that did not convince as the Kronk Gym favourite looked to get on the balls of his feet and skip away at the start of round three.

Hagler's eyes never deviated from a moving target, but his problems were also stacking up.

Referee Richard Steele was increasingly zealous when it came to breaking the fighters up, preventing Hagler from doing the work he wanted to on the inside. After one of the official's interventions, he called the ringside doctor to have a look at the champion's increasingly gruesome cut.

Given Hearns opened the cut with a punch, a TKO defeat was on the cards for Hagler if he was deemed unfit to continue.

But no referee or no doctor was stopping this fight. Hagler decided it was time to take care of adjudication himself.

He had started to measure Hearns' increasingly predictable retreats, and a right to the side of the head saw his opponent stagger sidewards across the right, almost turning his back. Hagler knew the time was now.

A follow-up right to the temple robbed Hearns of any remaining equilibrium and another to the jaw saw him sag back before collapsing downwards, the breeze of Hagler's superfluous follow-up shots doing nothing to rouse him.

Flat on his back, Hearns tried valiantly to beat Steele's count, but a valedictory triumph belonged to Hagler after a cacophony of violent mayhem and savagery that remains celebrated to this day.

Undefeated world champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez will meet to decide the undisputed light-welterweight king in Las Vegas on May 22.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) added the WBA belt to his IBF crown when he beat Regis Prograis via majority decision in the thrilling October 2019 World Boxing Super Series final.

The Scottish southpaw made short work of Apinun Khongsong in his first defence, stopping the challenger with a brutal first-round body shot.

American Ramirez (26-0 17 KOs) was, like Taylor, a 2012 Olympian but boasts more experience in the professional ranks.

He consolidated the WBC title by stopping then-WBO ruler Maurice Hooker inside six rounds in July 2019.

A points win over one-time Taylor victim Viktor Postol last August kept those belts in Ramirez's possession and it means all four of the major titles in the division will be on the line when the fighters meet in under three months' time.

"I'm excited it's finalised and over the line," Taylor said. "I can't wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career.

"Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about."

Ramirez added he is confident he can make history for a boxer of Mexican lineage, with undisputed status similarly a target for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez at super-middleweight this year.

"I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts," he said.

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank hailed "a true 50-50 fight" that "the fans and both fighters demanded".

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders will clash in a mouth-watering unification bout on May 8, promoter Eddie Hearn announced.

Canelo defended his WBC and WBA middleweight titles via a brutal TKO after just three rounds against Avni Yildirim in Miami on Saturday.

After being floored in the third round, Turkish challenger Yildirim managed to make it to the bell but his corner through in the towel before the start of the fourth at Hard Rock Stadium, where the gulf in class was evident from the outset.

Following the mismatch, a blockbuster showdown against unbeaten WBO holder and Englishman Saunders (30-0) was confirmed.

"It's Canelo against Saunders — May the 8th — venue announced shortly as he continues to move toward the undisputed championship at 168," Hearn said post-fight on DAZN.

Canelo said: "He's a very difficult fighter. He wants to unify. We want to go for it. We need to go for it.

"People talk whatever, but I'm a very mature fighter. I know how to control myself."

The 30-year-old Canelo is looking to become the first undisputed champion at super-middleweight, with IBF holder Caleb Plant next on the list if he gets past Saunders.

"It hasn't been done," Canelo said of being crowned undisputed champion "I want to make history.

"At 168, no one has done it in the world. I want to make my own history."

There was an electric crowd in attendance for the Canelo-Yildirim contest, with fan capacity capped at 15,000 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Canelo dominated and made his move in the third round – a combination of jabs sending Yildirim to the canvas, and while the latter survived the round, he did not emerge from his corner for the fourth.

"I wanted to have a great fight here," Canelo added. "I needed to knock [him] out, and that's what I did. That's what I had to do."

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