Rarely have two fighters delivered on the expectations of a nation quite like these two boxing legends. Duran (Panamanian) and Pacquiao (Filipino) have so many aspects of their boxing career that run parallel yet have distinctly different style and character.
Here is an in-depth exploration of their particular strengths, weaknesses, experiences that will ultimately help distinguish who would be the victor in this fictitious fight.
Panama’s Roberto Duran is considered by many of those who are respected in the sport as one of the greatest ever lightweights. He was involved in a golden era of boxing, the era of the four kings, Leonard, Hearns, Hagler and Duran himself.
All four of those fighters brought a unique dimension to the famous rivalry. Hagler was a scowling, mean, indestructible fighter with the unmistakeably Mephistophelian look, complete with shaved head and goatee beard. Leonard was cast as the smiley, enigmatic tv-friendly personality and was just as slick and flashy inside the ropes.
Tommy Hearns was the quieter of the quartet who surprised fans with his ability to bang, despite his tall, lean frame. Then there was Duran, a fighter who will be best remembered for his relentless, marauding style. Wearing down opponents with an insatiable desire to succeed.
In one of his most celebrated victories, he dragged Sugar Ray Leonard-an intelligent boxer renowned for his ring IQ-into a fight that suited his dogged approach. That first fight with Leonard earned him the WBC welterweight title.
Duran’s high-pressure style and formidable punching prowess earned him the moniker ‘Manos De Piedra’ or ‘Hands of Stone’. He would wear opponents down with his blistering tempo and if anyone was naïve or brave enough to go toe-to-toe with him, they would without doubt come off second best.
The Panamanian had that rare commodity of managing to remain perfectly balanced when throwing thunderous hooks, he wasn’t wild and uncontrolled, he had a measured brutality about him.
Something Duran rarely received credit for was his excellent head movement. His head would dart around side-to-side, back and forth, with his liquorice black mop of hair flicking out beads of sweat, such was the speed of movement as he danced into range.
Boasting a record of 103-16-0, ‘Hands of Stone’ had a remarkable career that spanned 5 decades, winning World Titles in four different weight classes. But it was at lightweight where he was most revered. By the time he faced Ken Buchannan at MSG for the WBC lightweight title, he was on a 28-fight winning streak
There was a certain savagery about Duran, an almost animalistic trait. The way he tore through the lightweight division was synonymous with the way he ripped through his reported habitual post-weigh in steak.
Food and weight were a factor throughout his career and is said to have contributed to the infamous ‘No Mas’ rematch with Leonard. Stomach cramps were blamed for the uncharacteristic retirement.
That’s not how Duran’s career should be defined though, he should be celebrated as one of the greatest ever. Only four fighters stopped Duran in well over a hundred fights, two of the stoppages were legends Hearns and Leonard and the other two he was aged 39 and 47 respectively.
Did You Know?
A crippling low blow by Duran sent Buchannan sinking to the canvas, writhing in agony just after the bell had sounded at the end of round 13 of their WBC welterweight title clash, causing Buchannan serious injury to the testicles, which was later confirmed by a medical examination. The fight was awarded in favour of Duran as Buchannan was deemed unfit to continue.
Buchannan, Lampkin, De Jesus, Ray Leonard 1, Barkley
Sugar Ray Leonard 2
Manny Pacquiao will no doubt go down in history as one of the greatest professional boxers ever.
It’s difficult to believe that the diminutive southpaw from the Philippines-whose infectious smile would light up any room-could be so devilishly destructive in the squared circle.
The Filipino superstar has set records that any other boxer will surely struggle to transcend. He’s the only quadruple-decade world champion in the history of boxing, having held major titles in the 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s and 2020’s.
Competing at weights that range from light flyweight right through to light middleweight, Pacquiao remarkably carried power and purpose through nine weight categories, winning titles in eight different weight classes.
His waspish style, zipping in and out of attacks is boxing poetry and often leaves onlookers wondering just how-when instigating an attack-is he able to propel himself, with both feet off the ground and land so cleanly and accurately? It’s not a clumsy tactic either, it’s almost like a seasoned Olympic fencer, except the lunge doesn’t have a single strike at the end of it, he tends to deliever several, rattling off a barrage of punch combinations before pivoting off the lead foot to change the angle.
The man nicknamed ‘Pac-Man’ has bamboozled many a tough opponent with that approach, most notably against tough, rugged operators like Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito. In particular the step to the side and looping left hand that met flush with Hatton’s jaw was as devastating a knockout as there was in 2009.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather enjoyed large periods of success at similar times in their career and were widely considered the best two pound for pound fighters around, which inevitably (if not eventually) lead to a super fight between the pair, billed as one of the biggest fights ever.
It didn’t really ignite, Mayweather walked away with the victory, cementing his legacy and preserving his undefeated record. It’s a blot on Pacquiao’s record but nobody can deny that he has fought-and beat-a host of legendary fighters. His resume is frighteningly impressive.
He will be remembered (once he retires that is) for being one of the most entertaining boxers that has laced them up. The wonderful trilogies with Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales stand out.
Did you know?
Manny Pacquiao is also a politician, serving as Senator of the Philippines since 2016
Barrera 1, Marquez 2, Morales 2, De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto Mosley, Margarito
Who wins the fight?
I see the fight as an exciting, barnstorming trade-off, with both fighters enjoying mini periods of dominance. Pacquiao can counter-punch with the best but Duran is deceptively elusive and would find a way to get inside. His punch resistance, solid body punches and relentless desire would be too much for Pac-Man, who would succumb to the man who, for many is the best lightweight ever.
Decision: Duran MD