On This Day – Roberto Duran Stops Ken Buchanan To Win His First World Title

Right now, the great Roberto Duran is being treated in hospital for the coronavirus. There was a time when the Panamanian legend put his opponents in hospital. Case in point, the fight that took place today in 1972 – Duran Vs. Ken Buchanan.

A ruthless, starving hungry Duran challenged the classy Scot for the world lightweight title, “Hands of Stone” determined to become a world champion. The two battled it out at Madison Square Garden in New York and the fight remains a controversial moment in 135 pound boxing history all these years later.

Duran, as rough, tough, dirty and relentless a fighting machine as could be imagined, hit the defending champion with everything – both legal blows, low blows, as well as head-butts and shots fired after the bell. Duran was in charge of the fight in a big way, but it was no boxing match; it was a street fight. Buchanan tried his best but he was no match for Duran’s rough stuff.

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At the end of the 13th round, Duran, who was a head on points in a big way, fought Buchanan after the bell. Both men threw punches but Duran put his foe down. Buchanan was in agony, claiming he was hit low. Nobody really doubted Buchanan’s claim, yet the fight was stopped, the now ex-champ deemed unable to continue. Referee Johnny LoBianco later said the following:

“The bell rang (at the end the 13th round), and they didn’t hear it. Duran landed a hard blow to the solar plexus area. It was a fair blow.”

To this day, millions of fans – be they Duran fans, Buchanan fans or fans of both men – are positive Duran belted Buchanan low.

Duran, though, denies hitting the champion low in the 13th round. A couple of years ago, Duran was a guest at Henry Wharton’s gym in York, UK, and Roberto spoke about the Buchanan fight.

“The main thing for a fighter is to fight for a world championship, it’s the biggest goal in life,” Duran said. “So when they told me I was getting that opportunity, I became very excited and I began training straight away, because I needed to become champion – I had to become champion. When you are the challenger you are hungrier than the champion. You are coming up and you are super-motivated to win. But Ken Buchanan from Scotland, he was a very strong fighter, a great fighter. That win remains my most cherished memory today.

“I freely admit I hit him low in the early rounds, but at the end of the fight, no. He simply could not go on any further. I remember the press conference before the fight – Buchanan arrived late and when he got there he made himself a sandwich. They were showing a fight of mine, up on the big screen. Ken didn’t look at it once. I asked him why and he told me that he didn’t need to, that I was too slow for him, too slow to be able to beat him. Right then, I made sure I trained harder than ever before in my life. I was so ready for that fight and I made sure I was as fast, as strong and as relentless as I could possibly be.”

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Whether or not you buy Duran’s version of the fight and its ending, it must be agreed how Roberto was winning the fight, was way ahead on points and would have won the decision had the fight been allowed to go those final two rounds. Still, to this day plenty of fans argue how Duran should have been disqualified that June night in 1972.