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Roberto ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran Is Literally Twice as Good as Any Boxer Today

Roberto ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran Is Literally Twice as Good as Any Boxer Today

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NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 25,1980: Roberto Duran (R) leaps to land the punch against Sugar Ray Leonard during the fight at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sugar Ray Leonard won the WBC welterweight title by a TKO 8. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
Roberto Duran (right) leaps to land the punch against ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard during the fight at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

How to put the career of Roberto “Hands of Stone” Durán in perspective? Here’s one way: He went 103-16 with 70 knockouts. The combined record of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao: 107-6 with 64 knockouts. The Panamanian icon won his first fight at age 16 in 1968 and his last at 49 in 2000. (Indeed, he won his first title at just 21 and his last title in 2000 on his 49th birthday.) His longevity was such that Sports Illustrated wrote that it was “probably safe to bet the rent that Roberto Durán will never again be paid to appear in short pants and padded mitts” in 1982, when he was 30 … only to see him fight for another 19 years while never ducking anyone: he went the distance in his final fight against future boxing Hall of Famer Hector “Macho” Camacho, who was over a decade younger.

No wonder Mike Tyson named Roberto his favorite fighter ever. (“Man, this guy is me, I thought.”)

Continually moving up weight classes, Durán was a champion at lightweight and welterweight before he found his greatest fame at light-middleweight and middleweight, battling fellow legends “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns, Wilfred Benitez, and of course, “Sugar” Ray Leonard.

 

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 10,1983: Roberto Duran (R) lands a punch against Marvin Hagler during the fight at Caesars Palace IN Las Vegas, Nevada. Marvin Hagler won the WBC middleweight title,WBA World middleweight title and IBF middleweight title by a UD 15. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
Roberto Duran (R) lands a punch against Marvin Hagler during the fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. (The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

Durán’s mystique will always be tied up with Leonard: Arguably, the greatest moment of Durán’s career came when he gave Leonard his first career defeat in 1980, after 28 fights, and improved his own record to an insane 72-1. (Durán’s only loss was by decision and he made a point of knocking out that opponent in both their rematches.) Unquestionably, the lowest came with his next fight (and loss) to Leonard in the notorious “No Mas” bout (i.e. Spanish for “no more”). Durán has denied saying this, though acknowledged he was a mess at the time from relentless partying. (Indeed, his knack for self-destructive behavior makes his longevity all the more mind-blowing.)

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: Four-time super middle-weight world champion Roberto "Mano de Piedra" Duran (C) from Panama holds the title belt after beating US challenger Pat Lawlor late 16 June, 2000, in Panama City. Duran won over Lawlor on a unanimous decision in twelve rounds in front of 12,000 people. AFP PHOTO / GUIDO BLANDON (Photo credit should read GUIDO BLANDON/AFP/Getty Images)
Four-time super middle-weight world champion Roberto ‘Mano de Piedra’ Duran (center) from Panama holds the title belt after beating US challenger Pat Lawlor late 16 June, 2000, in Panama City. (Guido Blandon/AFP/Getty Images)

Durán gets his moment on the big screen with the film Hands of Stone, starring Edgar Ramirez as Durán, the singer Usher Raymond as Leonard, Reg E. Cathey as the notorious promoter Don King, and Robert De Niro as Duran’s trainer, Ray Arcel (who had a truly remarkable life in his own right). There’s no way a film could do full justice to the career of Durán (it’s doubtful a miniseries could either), but it will still be a reminder of a man who refused to stay down.

After all, how can you not love a fighter who once knocked out a horse? “It was at a fiesta in my mother’s home town of Guarare. Someone bet me a bottle of whiskey that I couldn’t do it,” said Durán. Even now, you bet against Durán at your own risk. – Sean Cunningham for RealClearLife 

TOPSHOT - Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (L) and panamanian boxer Roberto Duran on May 16, 2016 during a photocall for the film "Hands of Stone" at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. / AFP / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (L) and Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran on May 16, 2016 during a photocall for the film “Hands of Stone” at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. (LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)