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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday…Roberto Duran

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Roberto Duran is best known for two things …his nickname “Manos de Piedra”Hands of Stone and for his surprising surrender against Sugar Ray Leonard in their second fight for which he said …no mas, no mas …

Duran’s style was more of a constant brawling style which would overwhelm opponents. He was alleged to have been considered a dirty fighter whether or not that was true in the sport of Boxing it can be hard to prove. He had many big fights in his career and his career had many interesting twists and turns. after the second Leonard fight you would think his career would have been over right? For a time it sure look that way.

He took some time to recover from that fight and gained even more weight to contend for the WBC Light Middleweight title, but losing in his first attempt at a championship in that division on January 30, 1982, against Wilfred Benítez by a 15 round unanimous decision. Durán was also to lose his comeback fight in September 1982 in Detroit. Kirkland Laing, from London, shocked the boxing world, producing the type of display his talents promised yet he so rarely produced, taking the split decision. After being relegated to a 10 round walk out win over Englishman Jimmy Batten at The Battle of The Champions in Miami, Durán signed with promoter Bob Arum. This marked the beginning of a comeback in which he beat former world champion and now hall of famer Pipino Cuevas via a fourth round knock-out, which earned him a second crack at the light middleweight title, this time against WBA Champion Davey Moore.

The WBA title bout took place at Madison Square Garden on June 16, 1983, which also happened to be Durán’s 32nd birthday. The still inexperienced Moore (12-0) was game through the first three rounds, but by the 4th, Durán said he knew Moore couldn’t hurt him, and an onslaught began.[11] The pro-Durán crowd at ringside cheered as Durán relentlessly punished Moore. By the end of the sixth round, Moore’s eye had swollen shut and he was floored near the end of the seventh. Finally the fight was stopped in the eighth round as Moore was taking such a horrific beating and Durán won his third world title. After the victory, Durán was hoisted up in the air as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to a sobbing Durán.

In June 1984, Durán was stripped of his Light Middleweight title when the WBA did not approve of his fight with WBC Champion Thomas “Hitman” Hearns and took away recognition of Durán as world champion the moment Durán stepped into the ring to box Hearns. Durán again made history in the fight, but this time it was the wrong kind. Hearns dropped Durán twice in the first round and as he rose to his feet after the second knockdown, which ended the round, the former champion did not know where his corner was. Hearns went on to knock Duran down a third time in the second round and the fight was stopped, marking the first time in his career that Durán had been knocked out in a fight (the “No Más” fight was officially recorded as a technical knockout, because Duran quit).

Durán did not contend another title fight until 1989, but made the shot count when he won the WBC Middleweight title from Iran Barkley in February. The fight is considered one of Durán’s greatest achievements, as the 37-year-old former lightweight champion took the middleweight crown, his fourth title. In a tough, back and forth fight, Durán knocked Barkley down in the eleventh round and won a close decision. The bout was named the 1989 “Fight of the Year” by The Ring.

His reign was short lived once again as Duran moved up to super middleweight (although both fighters weighed in at the middleweight limit) for a third clash with Sugar Ray Leonard in December 1990 (a fight dubbed Uno Más—One More—by promoters), which Leonard won by wide unanimous decision. Durán seemed to be in decline after the fight, he attempted to win further middleweight titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996 (fighting for the minor International Boxing Council (IBC) belt).

Durán fought Vinny Pazienza in 1994 and 1995 for the IBC Super Middleweight Championship and was defeated both times by unanimous decision, but many people felt Duran clearly won the first bout and he was robbed of the victory.

In 1996, he was challenged by Héctor Camacho for the vacant IBC Middleweight Championship but lost by a very controversial unanimous decision. In 1997, Durán was defeated by former champion Jorge Castro. Durán fought Castro in a rematch bout and won via unanimous decision.

In 1998, at the age of 47, he challenged 28-year-old WBA Middleweight Champion William Joppy. Joppy, a trim, quick-fisted fighter, battered Durán to defeat in just 3 rounds. It was Duran’s most emphatic loss since the Hearns fight, over a decade earlier. Durán then announced his retirement in August 1998, but was back fighting in 1999.

In June 2000, Durán avenged a previous loss to Pat Lawlor and won the NBA Super Middleweight Championship on his 49th birthday. He lost the title a year later to Héctor Camacho in a rematch bout and in what would be Durán’s final fight.

In 2002, Durán was voted by The Ring magazine as the fifth greatest fighter of the last 80 years, while boxing historian Bert Sugarrated him as the eighth greatest fighter of all time. The Associated Press voted him as the #1 lightweight of the 20th century, with many considering him the greatest lightweight of all time. Durán held world titles in four different weight classes: lightweight (1972–79), welterweight (1980), light middleweight (1983–84) and middleweight (1989). He was the second boxer to have fought a span of five decades, the first being Jack Johnson.

 

Boxing record
Total fights 119
Wins 103
Wins by KO 70
Losses 16
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