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Sorcery at Caesars: Sugar Ray's Marvelous Fight Paperback – June 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1592993369 ISBN-10: 1592993362 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


A terrific story. With simple but profound insight Steve Marantz creates a smooth fable of two epic fighters who were defined by each other- Hagler and his bald bluecollar sincerity against the get-rich-quick celebrity of Sugar Ray, a scheming con man in pinstripes. Were we all in love with the wrong guy? -- Ian Thomsen, Sports Illustrated

In deft, terrific prose, Steve Marantz has laid out the itineraries for Marvin and Sugar Ray, leading up to one memorable night in the desert. The whole story is here, as exciting as it was the first time. -- Leigh Montville, Sportswriter, Columnist and Author

About the Author

STEVE MARANTZ is co-founder of and a researcher for ESPN Content Development. He covered sports, government, and politics for the Kansas City Star, Boston Globe, and Boston Herald.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Inkwater Pr; 1st edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592993362
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592993369
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I do journalism and history.
My stories connect with me on a personal level -- but they aren't about me. I try to get out of the way of the story.
"Next Up at Fenway" reflects my interests in public education in Boston, baseball, and Latino immigration. All of those stem from my background as a reporter with the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, and as a researcher/producer with the ESPN E:60 show.
"The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central" is a story about social upheaval and basketball at my high school in 1968. I carried it with me for 40 years until it seemed to find closure in politics and cultural evolution.
"Sorcery at Caesars" stems from my coverage of boxing for the Boston Globe from 1979 to 1987. I had a ringside seat to the rivalry between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, whose fight in 1987 is the climax to my story.
I respect my subjects and the craft. The process -- research and writing -- is exacting and humbling.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven C. Marantz on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Leonard-Hagler story packs a wallop
By Doug Most, Globe Staff | August 12, 2008
Don't be deceived by the title of Steve Marantz's terrific new boxing book, "Sorcery at Caesars: Sugar Ray's Marvelous Fight."

Marantz, a longtime Boston journalist who covered boxing for the Globe, pulls no punches of his own in letting the reader know which fighter he was pulling for when Brockton's Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard squared off in their epic title bout on April 6, 1987, in Las Vegas. Marantz wanted to see the angry, shaven-headed Hagler wipe the perpetual smile off of Leonard's famous pretty-boy mug.

Of course, as anyone who followed boxing when boxing actually mattered knows, things didn't quite work out for the Marvelous one.

Surprisingly, the weakest part of the book may be its climax, the 12-round fight between a legitimate middleweight brawler known for being able to take a punch even better than he could deliver one and the aging, puffed-up welterweight from Washington, D.C., named after singing legend Ray Charles. The underdog Leonard saw Hagler as the perfect foil against whom to conclude his golden career, but the fight details almost go by too quickly, with not enough analysis of the blow-by-blow to fully convey how Leonard accomplished what he did.

Fortunately, by the time readers get to the fight, they will be so engrossed in the back story of what led up to it that the punching almost feels anticlimactic. Marantz does a terrific job of bringing to life the vastly different stories of these two proud but troubled men who came together for one night of brawling and bloodshed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the better boxing books I've read. It is well researched, well-written and pulls no punches when covering the skills, flaws and foibles of Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. We see that there is Ray Leonard the nice guy and "Sugar Ray Leonard," the crafty, media manipulating Hollywood darling who is a master of ring psychology and public relations.

Both guys conquer their toughest opponents in the ring, but succumb to their toughest enemies outside the ring (adultery, cocaine abuse, volatile domestic episodes, divorce, etc).

As for the fight itself, both men put on a stirring performance, but according to author Steve Marantz, Sugar Ray "put the fight game" on Marvelous Marvin by psyching him out (complimenting him outside the ring, mocking him in the ring, throwing dazzling, crowd pleasing flurries several times a round, bolo punching, ducking, dodging, dancing, sticking and moving, frustrating Hagler at every turn.

Sugar Ray was a winner in the eyes of the public for putting on such a strong performance for this being his 2nd official fight in 5 plus years. Hagler came on in rounds 5-12, winning a majority of those rounds to make the fight close. Actually, I felt that a draw would not have been unreasonable. But two judges scored it 115-113 (one for Hagler, for Leonard), the other judge had Leonard way ahead, 118-110.

For me, the most disturbing part of the book was the court documented description of Leonard's brutal abuse of his first wife Juanita. I came away from this book admiring the boxing skills of both fighters, but appalled by their behavior at times outside the ring.

To this day, the world is split on who truly won the Leonard-Hagler fight. 6-6 or 7-5 either way is not out of line, but 10-2 for Leonard seems extreme to me. But the book itself is a knockout! All boxing fans should get this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Adams on August 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Steve Marantz has done a masterful job of explaining in detail the alchemy of the fight game as well as the epic 1987 champtionship battle between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He does so by diligently taking the reader back to the roots of each fighter, and then stepping us forward through their pugilistic and personal histories. He finishes with a brilliantly clear, round-by-round picture of the historic fight between these two giants of the ring. In the process, he brings close other boxers who figure into this tale -- most clearly that of Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns. By the book's end I was rushing to my computer to check out youtube footage of the many fights that Marantz expertly chronicals.

The author may be overreaching when he attempts to highlight the hidden demons of cocaine abuse and womanizing -- that lurked behind the boxing scene -- in both Leonard's and Hagler's corner. Similarly, one might criticize Marantz for presumption when he explains some of the psychological injuries suffered by Hagler in his battles with Leonard and the boxing world. How, afterall, could this author truly know what motivated, displeased, or haunted either of these boxers. And yet, to keep the narrative flowing, Marantz frequently states as fact what can only be conjecture. Even so, Marantz appears to have done assiduous homework -- with quotes and references from many sources. Rarely does he make a statement about either boxer's emotion or mood without an immediate attribution or direct quote. The book is nothing if not extremely well sourced.

The product of all this research is a great boxing book that dances and weaves as smoothly as Sugar Ray, with the power of the Marvelous one himself. A great story well told.
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