Roberto Duran “Manos De Piedra”: One of the Best Ever
The eighties middleweight division was the most stacked division in boxing. "The Four Horseman": Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran fought each other at different times, each clearing the division and demanding title shots. Of the four, Sugar Ray Leonard is the most well known. I believe Marvin Hagler was the best, and Roberto Duran the most overlooked.
The closest recent times have come to "The Four Horseman" was around 2008, when we had Mayweather, Pacquiao, Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez. Unfortunately, politics in the early oughts was as bad as the 50's in boxing history. Outside of Sergio Martinez and Paul Williams, the other fighters never faced each other until much later and we as fans were deprived of a wonderful cluster of rivalries that would have ignited the sport and truly emphasized what can be at stake when the best face the best.
Tomorrow, Hands of Stone, a movie about Roberto Duran and the eighties boxing scene is coming out and I for one am very excited. The closest to Roberto Duran's lineage in modern boxing would be Juan Manuel Marquez, a boxer whose grit often times overshadows his brilliance and mastery of technique and ring generalship.
In Duran's first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, we were able to see a fighter unfettered by fame and legacy fight a fighter weighted down by the hype of a nation. Leonard was faster, more athletic and charismatic, but his defeat at the hands of Duran showed that boxing fundamentals wins every time.
Thanks to Youtube, fight fans can watch all these classic fights. If you don't know who wins it can be exciting to watch the old footage. This is footage that the greats today study, and you as a fan can study and begin to connect the dots between why Sergei Kovalev puncher/brawler style can be so effective against a pure tactician such as Bernard Hopkins.
In this fight, watch the trademark Duran moves. He will throw an insincere jab, only to distract his opponent while he steps off to the side and lands a digging punch to the body (the true test of a great South American fighter, I always knew De La Hoya was American by his lack of body shots.) Then, when the timing is right, watch Duran come over the top with a strong right, his whole body behind it. Despite his reputation as a brutal brawler, it was Duran's patience that made him so effective.