By: Jim Amato
Roberto Duran is already enshrined in the World Boxing Hall Of Fame. He is on the ballot for induction into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in 2007. In reviewing his record I was absolutely amazed at what he had accomplished. This is a man who turned pro in 1968 and had his last fight in 2001 ! He competed in five decades.
There is more to the Duran story, much more. His first major win was in 1970 when he stopped future featherweight champion Ernesto Marcel. Interesting note, Marcel’s last fight was in 1974 when he outpointed the great Alexis Arguello in defense of his featherweight title.
Duran impressed the boxing world on September 13, 1971 when he destroyed Benny Huertas in one round. Later that year he knocked out former junior lightweight champion, Hiroshi Kobayashi. On June 26, 1972, the undefeated Duran halted the formidable Ken Buchanan to win the world’s lightweight title. The reign of terror had begun.
Duran’s last title defense was in 1978. During that stretch Roberto only lost one fight, a non title decision to the superb Esteban DeJesus. He would later stop Esteban twice in subsequent title fight rematches. In all Roberto made twelve successful defenses of his title. An often overlooked fact though is that during his tenure as lightweight champion, he also had 22 non title bouts. I guess Duran’s handler’s, the legendary pair of Ray Arcel and Freddie Brown felt the best way to keep Roberto in shape was to keep him busy. Some of those non title affairs were against stiff competition. Future junior welterweight titleholder Saoul Mamby, Edwin Viruet who later challenge Roberto for the crown. Hector Matta, Doc McClendon, Javier Ayala…These men were no walk in the park opposition.
After Roberto abdicated his lightweight title in 1978 he would box for 23 years in higher weight classes. He would win titles at welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight. He completely skipped over the junior welterweight division. From 1978 until his last bout in 2001 he met twelve world champions. Although his combined record against these champions was 6-11 you must understand he was fighting well above his natural weight.
In all Roberto had 119 fights. He won 103 of them, 70 by knockout. Now that’s impressive. Does he belong in the Hall Of Fame ? Now that’s a no brainer.