By Jim Amato

I recently saw a replay of the famous Roberto Duran – Ken Buchanan battle of 1972. It was the June night in which Roberto lifted Ken’s lightweight title and started a reign of terror in the lightweight division that lasted until 1978. Although Duran was winning, the controversial end in the thirteenth round of the Buchanan fight should have warranted a return match for Ken. The Buchanan camp said he was hit low at the end of the thirteenth round and could not continue. Referee Johnny LoBianco thought otherwise and stopped the bout.

Duran’s ferocious aggression had surprised the slick boxing Buchanan throughout the fight. Still at times Ken showed tremendous grit and held his own. After this bout Buchanan would more then earn his right to a rematch. He won thirteen straight bouts going into 1975. In fact his first fight back he halted former champion Carlos Ortiz.

Two fights later Ken outscored future lightweight champion Jim Watt. The wins kept coming. Among his victims were Hector Matta, ChuChu Malave and Frankie Otero on two occasions. He stopped Antonio Puddu to win the European title. Still no rematch with Duran.

Finally Ken secured a match with WBC lightweight champion Ishimatsu ” Guts ” Suzuki in Tokyo. Suzuki had lost title attempts against Ismael Laguna and Duran but then knocked out Rodolfo Gonzalez to gain recognition from the WBC. Many gave Ken a very good chance of winning this fight but the ever aggressive Suzuki pulled out a unanimous decision and Ken’s hopes of getting Roberto back in the ring ended. Later Suzuki would lose his title to Esteban DeJesus. Duran had lost the only fight of his career to DeJesus in a non title fight just months after he had beaten Buchanan. Two years later Duran stopped DeJesus in a title fight. When DeJesus beat Suzuki it eventually set up the unification rubber match in which Roberto again halted Esteban.

Why would Roberto never grant Buchanan a return match ? Ken was a top contender for almost three years. Would Buchanan and DeJesus have met if Ken would have defeated Suzuki ? If so, who would have won that fight ? Buchanan had his most trouble with hard charging, aggressive fighters like Duran and Suzuki. DeJesus was more of a boxer / counter puncher. Buchanan would have had a better chance of establishing his fine jab thus giving him a decent chance of beating DeJesus. I think it would have been a great fight. I think Duran – Buchanan II would have been great too.

Too bad we’ll never know.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing

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