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#8 Roberto Duran - Top 10 of Boxing’s Most Terrifying Fighters

Roberto Duran

Mentioned in the Thomas Hearns conversation was his KO of Roberto Duran. That loss came much later in the career of “manos de piedra” (“hands of stone”) Duran. Go back to the start of the Panamanian born champion and you will find that he was the most feared lightweight in the world.

To begin his career, Roberto Duran won his first 31 fights, many of them by knockout. On June 26, 1972, Duran won the lightweight championship by scoring a TKO over Ken Buchanan. His first loss would come later that year in a non-title bout with Esteban de Jesus by a unanimous decision. de Jesus gave Duran another shot two years later but this time it was for the title. de Jesus got knocked out in the 11th round this time around.

That second de Jesus fight was March 16, 1974, and Duran would not lose again until Sugar Ray Leonard beat him in a rematch of their first fight just months before when Duran won the unanimous decision. From the de Jesus loss to the Leonard loss, Roberto Duran had won an incredible 41 straight fights. While Duran had been knocked out just four times in his 119 fight career, the Leonard TKO can be dismissed because that loss was a result of the infamous “No Mas” conclusion.

In their first fight, Sugar Ray had challenged Duran at his own game, trying to go toe-to-toe and it backfired. In the second meeting, Leonard went back to his bread-and-butter, pure boxing and added to it a little bit of showboating such as a windup with one arm and then hitting Duran with the other fist. There was fancy footwork and Leonard just bedazzled Duran to the point he flat out quit after the eighth round. It was most definitely the biggest embarrassment of Roberto Duran’s career if not ever in boxing.

It seems that once Roberto Duran strayed from the lightweight division, his career began to have a slight downside. After going 72-2 including the Leonard loss, the remainder of his career would see Duran finish with a record of 31-12 in his last 43 fights. Leonard and Duran would fight one more time and this time the former lightweight champion did not quit but he lost a unanimous decision and this was the for the super middleweight title.

Roberto Duran fought for 33 years as a professional beginning in 1968 and over his last 10 fights he won six and lost four. His career ended with a loss to the late Hector Camacho by decision while those two were battling for the NBA super middleweight championship. But to be considered for this list it must be a reflection of Roberto Duran’s first 60 plus fights when he dominated the lightweight division and knocked out the biggest names in that division for that time.

Leading up to the last time Roberto Duran defended his lightweight title with a TKO of Esteban de Jesus in 1978, he had scored a KO or TKO of 44 of the 64 opponents he faced. This included streaks of eight and nine straight knockouts. 21 of Roberto Duran’s knockouts during his career came in the first round. Another eight were second-round stoppages. 41% of his knockouts came before the bell ending a second round. As a lightweight, Roberto Duran lived up to the nickname Hands of Stone and he is surely one of the greatest lightweight champions of all time.

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Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson

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