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While basically a lefthander, Hagler is a switcher who prefers to fight from a distance, sharp and clean. He wears people down, taking them out with clusters of crushing, crisp combinations. While winning 46 of 49 bouts (one draw) he had knocked out 38 opponents.
Against Antuofermo, an Italian-born resident of Brooklyn who usually begins to bleed halfway through the national anthem, Hagler's slashing style promised to remind people of the Little Bighorn. But only "if we can keep Vito off us," said Pat Petronelli, who with his brother Goody manages and trains Hagler. "Vito is rough and tough, a street brawler with a lot of heart whose best punch is his head. We can't go inside with him. That would be crazy."
In the early going it was all Hagler. The 27-year-old challenger piled up points with a stinging clothesline jab and hooks from both sides. A jab opened a small cut in the outside corner of Antuofermo's left eye in the third; a left uppercut opened the other corner of the same eye in the fourth.
In the fifth, the champion began to apply more pressure, but he took still more punishment getting inside. He came out of that round bleeding from a small cut near the corner of the right eye. He was cut twice more in the sixth: over the right eye and on the right cheek, the latter a two-inch opening. In the ninth Hagler ripped him under the left eye.
"Help," said cutman Brown. In stepped Tony Carione, Antuofermo's manager, who worked on two of the cuts while Brown closed the other four.
"I'm getting old," sighed Brown, who is 72. "Once I could close six cuts in a minute and not even feel hurried."
The challenger was cut in the outer corner of his right eye and blood streamed down his cheek. Antuofermo was having trouble breathing because of a lingering cold; his body was splattered with blood.