By Jim Amato

It took place on June 22, 1996 in Atlantic City. It was a bout for the vacant International Boxing Council version of the middleweight title. It was not the title at stake that the fans were interested in. It was the match up. The legendary Roberto Duran was going to take on Hector “Macho” Camacho. In 1994 Duran had met the popular Vinny Pazienza for the IBC’s super middleweight title. Roberto floored Vinny in the fifth but Pazienza walked off with a controversial decision win. The two met again in 1995 and this time Vinny won a clear cut verdict over a sluggish Duran. Based on that fight Duran was a decided 4 to 1 underdog to the flashy Camacho. There was no love lost between these two combatants. The bad blood only added to the fan interest. It also fanned the embers still burning deep within the once great Duran.

Roberto came in at a sleek 157 pounds. That was much lighter then he had been for Pazienza. Camacho looked a bit fleshy at 160. Duran had not looked this tight and hungry since his 1989 win over Iran Barkley for the WBC middleweight title. The fight started off as if the odds makers had a crystal ball. Camacho dominated the first two rounds using his hand speed and southpaw stance to great effect. At times he even made Duran look awkward and amateurish. Still Roberto never lost focus. Hector took round three but a subtle change was taking place. Roberto began connecting with solid right hands to the head and body. Duran continued to pick up the pace in round four. You could make a case for Hector winning this round too but he was beginning to look anything but macho.

From that point on I would be hard pressed to award another round to Camacho.Duran’s right hand shots to the head were landing with telling effect and they found the target often. Roberto was also landing sledgehammer rights to Camacho’s body. These would slow down Hector as the bout progressed. Camacho was still landing some stinging right jabs and an occasional counter left hook but Duran was the man. He was out working and out punching Camacho. Many felt going into the bout that it would be the older Duran who would tire down the stretch. Instead it was Camacho who was wearing down. The well conditioned Duran had controlled the fight since round five. After twelve rounds the judges scored the bout 115-113, 116-113 and an unbelievable 117-111, all for Camacho. How ? I had it 8-4 in rounds for Roberto. Even if I was being overly generous it would have been at least seven rounds for Duran. The decision hit Roberto harder then any punch that Camacho landed.

That was the last time I felt Roberto looked great in the ring. In 1997 he engaged in two wars with Argentina’s rugged Jorge Castro. Each fighter won a decision but those battles took a lot out of Roberto. In 1998 Duran was matched with WBA middleweight champion William Joppy. Now Joppy will doubtfully be inducted in to the boxing Hall Of Fame but in his prime he was a very competent boxer. Joppy was at his peak when he met Duran. To this day I cringe when I see the beating Roberto took from Joppy. It was a fight that never should have happened yet despite the punishment Roberto refused to go down. Finally Joe Cortez had seen enough and waved the fight over in round three.

Ironically Roberto’s last fight was against Camacho in 2001. This time Roberto had no spark or drive. Camacho jabbed and danced his way throughout twelve dull rounds to cop the decision. This made Camacho officially 2-0 over Duran but most people who saw the first fight will tell you that “unofficially” it should have been one win a piece.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Anonymous

    i agree i was their saw the it live


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