It’s hard to believe, but the legendary Roberto Duran is celebrating his 69th birthday today. Arguably the greatest lightweight to ever live, Duran went 103-16 with 70 KOs in a remarkable career.
He was at his best at lightweight, but he was also a beast at welterweight. He added world titles at super welterweight and middleweight and easily could have claimed a 140-pound belt had he gone for it. Instead, he went straight to welterweight from lightweight.
He was lineal champion at lightweight and welterweight and one of the most popular fighters of his era.
He’s a Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter of all-time in my opinion and has enough quality wins that he could go as high as the Top 5. He has wins over Hall of Famers Ken Buchanan, Carlos Palomino, Sugar Ray Leonard and Pipino Cuevas and fought scores of world champions.
He was so great that it’s sad he’s known by many only for quitting in the infamous “No mas” bout against Leonard in 1980.
5 greatest performances of Duran’s career
5. Unanimous decision loss to Marvelous Marvin Hagler on Nov. 10, 1983 in Las Vegas: Hagler retained the middleweight title with a 15-round decision, but it was Duran who had everyone talking after the fight. He forever erased the stigma of his “No mas” bout against Sugar Ray Leonard three years earlier with a gutty performance against a much larger man. This was a fight that reminded everyone why Duran is regarded as an all-time Top 10 fighter.
4. TKO in 13th round over Ken Buchanan to win WBA lightweight title on June 26, 1972 in New York: Buchanan was a highly regarded opponent who entered the bout with a 43-1 record.
Duran was brilliant throughout and wore Buchanan down with a vicious body assault.
3. TKO in 11th round over Esteban De Jesus to win WBA lightweight title in a rematch on March 16, 1974 in Panama City, Panama: Duran had lost a decision to De Jesus two years earlier in a shocking upset, and he was dropped in the second round of this one.
But Duran arose quickly and fought with the ferocity he was known for throughout his career. The third round was a sensational back-and-forth battle with both landing big. But Duran began to make De Jesus wilt in the heat and stopped him after a five-punch combination.
2. TKO in 8th round over Davey Moore on June 16, 1983 in New York: Moore was a sensation in the 1980s and won a super welterweight world title in just his ninth pro fight. He’d defended it successfully three times when he signed to defend against Duran.
Some thought Duran was on the way down, and there were many who picked Moore to win, and oddsmakers made Moore a 5-2 favorite. But Duran devastated him throughout, winning every round and stopping him in the eighth of a nationally televised show.
It was such a devastating beating that Moore was never the same.
1. Unanimous decision win over Sugar Ray Leonard for WBC welterweight title on June 20, 1980 in Montreal: This no question was Duran’s finest hour. Leonard was the big star and Duran resented all of the attention that Leonard received, as well as how easy he felt Leonard had it on the way to the top.
It was a pitched battle fought on the inside and Duran tore away at Leonard’s body repeatedly. He won the title by a narrow margin and cemented himself that night as one of the all-time greats.
He’s now a great ambassador for the sport of boxing and constantly wears a grin on his face, unlike the menacing scowl he brought to the ring.
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