Panama’s Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran turned professional at age 15 in February of 1968 weighing 119 ¼. At his highest weight prior to his title challenge in June of 1972 in October of 1971 he was 136.
Duran would win the world lightweight title in his 29th fight defeating then WBA champion Ken Buchanan of Scotland stopping him in the 13th round well ahead at the time.
Duran would make three defenses at 135 before moving up to 140 in a non-title fight. Several months later Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes, from Venezuela would win the WBA title at 140 in his second attempt. This future IBHOF boxer was one to be feared by many. He had lost in his first title attempt to Brazil’s Nicolino “El Intocable” Loche, another future IBHOF boxer who would lose to Antonio Fraser who Cervantes beat for the title and Cervantes would defeat Loche in his second title fight defense. He would hold the title for almost 4 years before running into a 17 year-old Wilfredo “Bazooka” Benitez.
Duran would lose two fights later for the first time after winning the title from Buchanan in a non-title bout with Estaban “Vita” DeJesus in November of 1972 coming off the canvas in the first round to lose a decision. It wouldn’t be until March of 1974 they had a rematch with Duran stopping DeJesus in 11 rounds in a title defense and again in January of 1978 stopping him in 12 rounds in his twelfth defense Duran vacated his title.
This writer met him in April of 1977 at “Smokin” Joe Frazier’s Gym on North Broad St. in North Philly preparing for his title defense against Edwin Viruet. I never saw anyone skip rope as well as Duran.
It would be in June of 1980 before Duran would challenge for the 147 title held by Olympic Gold Medalist and WBC champ “Sugar” Ray Leonard. In those eight fights after vacating his title and fighting Leonard his highest weight was 151.
Upon beating Leonard for the WBC title having him fight his fight not Leonard’s a rematch is made in November of 1980 where Leonard fought his fight moving around Duran and showboating in making a mockery of Duran who would surrender “no mas” walking to his corner before the bell ended the round only being behind 66-67 and 66-68 twice on the scorecards. He would be humiliated by his fans in Panama on his return for quitting like he did.
In January of 1982 Duran who move up to 154 and challenge WBC champion Benitez losing a decision. The first fight after Leonard Duran was up to 155. In June of 1983 Duran would capture the WBA title from Davey “Sensational” Moore by stoppage. In his next fight he challenged middleweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler for his three titles losing a decision in November of 1983.
In Duran’s next fight he was knocked out by Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns. He would win 7 of his next 8 fights only losing to Hagler’s half-brother Robbie Simms. He would get another title fight and defeat WBC Middleweight champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley in February of 1989. In his previous fight Duran weighed 166.
In March of1999 Duran would come in at his highest career weight of 176 losing to Omar “El Principe” Eduardo Gonzalez. He ended his career with a 103-16 record with 70 stoppages.
What this writer discovered in doing this article is that Duran didn’t jump from 135 to 147 avoiding then champion Cervantes at 140 but win that title.
Who was Duran’s hardest opponent? The scale! He would balloon up to over 200 pounds between fights even holding the title at 147 blaming having to lose over 50 pounds in his rematch with Leonard.