With more than three decades of fighting, Roberto Durán is considered by many to be the greatest lightweight fighter of all time. While various outlets rank him in different positions in the top ten greatest boxers, he is without question among the elite of the sport. Gifted with the talent, energy and the business savvy that kept him in the ring long beyond his contemporaries, Duran can lay claim to the rare fame of having collected victories over the course of five decades.
While Duran is not often described as a brutal brawler, his style was nevertheless aggressive and forward, with an inevitable promise of action to audiences. He boasts his share of knockouts as well as brilliantly executed multi-round battles clinching the favour of judged decisions. At the peak of his career, he dominated in his weight class for many years and has stood toe to toe with many of the Hall of Famers of his own generation including Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and more. His collection of titles includes the Welter Weight belt for the WBC along with light and middleweight championships with the same organization as well as for the WBA.
Duran was born in Panama in 1951 as Roberto Samaniego and began sparring and fighting when he was only eight years old, a pastime that kept him out of trouble and off the streets of the rough El Chorillo area of Guarare. He began fighting professionally when he was a mere teenager in ’68. His career is epic starting in the lighter weight classes and moving up through the decades. In the first part of his career, Duran saw only one loss over the course of twelve years, taking on every comer and knocking them down to make room for the next one, making a name for himself in Panama and the rest of South and Central America before moving on to achieve international acclaim. His winning percentage began to decline into the 80’s where we was now moving up in weight classes and battling it out on a global scale, meeting up with some intimidating opponents. Duran lost some highly publicized events including his match with Sugar Ray Leonard dubbed the “No Mas” fight, a Spanish phrase that loosely translates into “enough” or “saying when” as it were. Duran essentially quit in that fight, ceasing to bring his all to the ring and asked to stop because he said he had stomach cramps. It was somewhat unexpected and created quite the buzz in the boxing community.
Such a move was not characteristic of Duran who would always come ready for a fight and meet head on with his opponent without trying to out trick or maneuver them. He was not looking to win on points although that did occur on a couple of occasions which is not surprising considering the length of his career. Even as he grew older in the ring, he continued to face fighters much younger than himself and just entering their career primes.
Following a severe auto accident, Duran decided to retire as a boxer at the age of 50, leaving behind him an exemplary career with amazing memories and outcomes and a difficult legacy for the next round of fighters.
Duran, beyond boxing, has made some cameo appearances in film and television, is an ultralight pilot and represents the South American bottled water brand, Panama Blue.
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