Roberto Duran turns 71 today. It was on the day of his 32nd birthday that the world arguably got to see Duran at his nastiest, at his most chillingly ruthless.
It was back on the evening of June 16, 1983, when Duran – who was six fights removed from the “No Mas” disgrace; with two of these fights being losses – challenged young and unbeaten WBA 154 pound champ Davey Moore. Duran was widely seen as pretty much finished. Worse than that, Duran was still haunted by his “cowardly” actions in the Sugar Ray Leonard rematch. Also, Roberto was going up in weight to challenge 24 year old Moore.
But Duran rolled back the years and he gave those fans who had stayed loyal a brilliant, reaffirming performance.
In actual fact, it was not a fight at all – it was a beating. A beatdown. A mugging disguised as a boxing lesson. Moore never had a chance.
Duran had regained his once terrifying snarl, his dark eyes back on fire. Moore gave it his best shot but he really was very possibly the victim of the nastiest version of Duran the world ever saw. Duran did it all: he raked Moore with the laces of his glove, he thumbed him in the eye, and he hit him pretty much any place he wanted. And Duran was also a master of slipping shots on this night, while his body punching was nothing short of murderous.
Moore, his right eye slammed shut and his mouth hanging open, showed amazing heart and guts – heart and guts the referee (and Davey’s own corner) never should have allowed him to show. For by round six or seven, Moore was a thoroughly beaten man. Moore took a serious beating, before he was finally sent crashing in round seven. Moore, his head having been slammed around, went down hard. The fight should have been called right there and then. Instead, the defending champ staggered back to his corner and was then, quite disgracefully, allowed to come out for more.
Round eight saw the sneering Duran show zero mercy. Moore took more punishment, the fight being hard to watch, before, finally, Davey’s corner threw in the white towel of surrender. The bloodthirsty crowd had enjoyed the carnage (most of them at least, some in attendance had been screaming for the fight to be stopped for quite some time) – and then Duran was treated to a spontaneous rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The born fighter of all born fighters was king of the world once again.
Sadly, Moore died in a freak auto accident in 1988. He was just 28. Moore had finished with an 18-5(14) record, Davey having gone 6-4 after the Duran beating; included here a quick stoppage win over Wilfred Benitez.
On the under-card that June night at Madison Square Garden, the infamous Luis Resto-Billy Collins fight took place. One of the most shocking and controversial fights in boxing history, Resto-Collins sent the sport to a dark place due to the way Panama Lewis took the padding out of his fighter Resto’s gloves.
Collins took a fearful beating and his life was never the same again. Some fights are just impossible to watch. Resto WU10 Collins (later changed to a NC) is one such fight.