1. PERIOD: 1970-1979

Selection: Roberto Duran

Lightweight Champion 1972-1979 Welterweight Champion Jun. 1980-Nov. 1980.  WBA Jr. Middle Champ 1983-1984. WBC Middleweight Champ Feb. 1989-Dec. 1989. Record: 102-15 (69 Kayo's)

By: Monte Cox

ImageRoberto Duran is considered to be the greatest Lightweight champion of all time by many modern boxing historians. He had fire in his dark eyes and stone in his hands. Duran grew up as a young street fighter in tough Panama City, Panama. Early in his career his was a brawler with a slugger's raw style. His great trainer's Freddie Brown and Ray Arcel molded him into one of the greatest boxer-punchers of All Time. Roberto was an outstanding body puncher and pressure fighter, he had subtle head movement and is often under-rated as a defensive fighter.  He was known for his strong punching power at 135 pounds and possessed more "killer instinct" than a dozen of today's top pugilists.

Duran held the lightweight championship for 7 years and made 12 successful title defenses. He won the championship by beating the great Ken Buchanan in 13 rounds in 1972.  He was an exciting fighter who scored knockouts over the likes of  Hiroshi Kobayahi, Ishimatsu Suzuki, Hector Thomas, Vilomar Fernandez, Ray Lampkin, and Esteban DeJesus (twice), while campaigning as a lightweight. His peak performances was his 1978 unification match against WBA champion DeJesus. In that fight Duran systematically destroyed one of the top lightweights of the era. After this great victory the cover of the Jun. 1978 issue of "International Boxing" declared: "Nobody Does It Better!"

After achieving greatness at lightweight Roberto Duran went on to become a 4 division champion. He beat former welterweight champions Carlos Palomino, and Pipino Cuevas and won the Welterweight Championship by decisioning the great Sugar Ray Leonard in the "Brawl in Montreal" in June 1980. Duran's two handed attack won a thrilling battle as the two champions went toe to toe for most of the bout.

Unfortunately Duran embarassed himself and diminshed his reputation by quitting against Leonard in the infamous "no mas" fight in their rematch Nov. 1980.  Duran became frustrated when it became apparent he could not outbox Leonard and abdicated.

Redemption came when he kayo'd Davey Moore in 8 rounds to capture the WBA 154 pound crown in Jun. 1983. He then went 15 full rounds against Middleweight champion Marvin Hagler to regain the affection of the fans. In his next fight he was kayo'd in two rounds by Thomas Hearns, the only legitimate knockout loss of his career until being stopped by WBA Middleweight champion William Joppy at age 47 in 1998. Duran's last great fight was his suprising victory over Iran Barkley to capture the WBC Middleweight Championship. Duran fought with inspiration flooring Barkley on the way to capturing a close decision in 1989. Duran is easily one of the greatest fighters of the century and a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mentions: Alexis Arguello, Wilfred Benitez, Bob Foster, Wilfredo Gomez, Carlos Monzon, Jose Napoles, Carlos Zarate