Iran “The Blade” Barkley (black and red trunks) is a big, strong, hard hitting middleweight coming into this fight after knocking out the incredible Thomas Hearns. His massive physical strength and tremendous left hook were his two best assets and he looked to put both to use against the shorter, smaller fighter. He also has a massive reach advantage he can put to use here as well.
Roberto “Hands of Stone Duran
The fighting pride of Panama is widely considered one of the 10 greatest boxers ever to live. He started his career at 135lbs and over 5 (yes 5) decades he rose though the weight classes and won titles in four of them. This fight was fought at 160lbs and He was 37 going into the ring that night. At this point he was winning fight not based on his power or speed, which had declined as the years passed, but with his sheer intelligence. The guy could do it all. He was a brilliant and crafty boxer on the outside, he could fight up close and nasty with all the finesse of a guy who truly understood the sweet science.
This Gif pretty much sums up Duran’s game plan here. He throws a jab from beyond the distance where it can land in order to draw a counter from Barkley, He then wants to slip the counter to land his right hand to either the head or body. He goes to the body here and skips off to the left to be out of the way when Barkley throws back.
Well. his power hadn’t declined that much
He does it again here throwing jabs that cannot possibly land, waiting for Barkley to throw his own jabs in return, he knows that because of the distance between them it’s the only punch Barkley can really throw without stepping in first. By waiting until Barkley commits to a punch he can safely lean farther forward when throwing his right over the top and punching through his target. The punch landed much harder because Barkley had already begun to throw a left hook as the right came in. Many people say that power is the last thing to go on a fighter, because power largely comes from proper punching technique and turning the hips through as you hit. George Foreman won the heavyweight title at age 45 with very little other than raw power and the patience to wait for the perfect time to use it. There are stories of Jack Dempsy knocking out a mugger when he was well into his 70’s.
Barkley adjusts, Duran adjusts
After getting cracked by that big right hand Barkley gets a bit more careful with his distancing and smarter with his jab. He knows Duran is going to try and counter it so he start throwing it from just past where it can land, trying to get Duran to move his head to leave his body open. He steps in and the men trade left hooks, Barkley’s to the body and Duran’s to the head. Duran knows he’s going to have issues if this is the distance Barkley chooses to fight at so he looks to move the fight to the inside to work Barkley’s body but ends up on the wrong end of a salvo of body hooks.
Duran keeps coming forward trying to get inside on the taller fighter. Duran ducks in slipping a jab on the way keeping his hands low to block Barkley’s hooks to the body but takes a right hand which he counters with a crisp left hook as Barkley tries to back out of distance. Barkley jabs again and again gets cracked with a hard right hand counter before leaning into him to smother the return fire. They trade short hooks to the body before Barkley loads up a big uppercut that Duran sees (or more likely feels) coming so he pulls his head back creating the space to make the uppercut whiff. Brilliant boxing.
Duran finds his range
Generally as a fight goes on the boxers will get closer as they get more comfortable with their opponents style. All that inside fighting made Barkley forget that he has a huge reach advantage. Duran gets close enough to begin to put his jab to work. His defense and countering is excellent he as slips, parries and counter jabs the taller guy. He ducks in low to trade body punches before getting back out and blocking a 3 punch combo from Barkley.
That look Familiar?
After the guys trade and Duran steps out, he throws a jab Barkley hesitates before throwing his own and Duran slips the punch and turns his head while cracking him with a hard right hand counter. Notice Duran turns his face away from Barkley? He gains about 3 inches of extra distance between his face and Barkley by doing that and he is just outside Barkley’s reach but still close enough to counter. Where have you seen that before? http://i.imgur.com/Fymxh6T.mp4 It’s the Pull counter Floyd Mayweather fans love to rave about so much.
Technique is awesome and all
But can we all just take a second to appreciate just how fucking good this fight is? Goddamn what a war.
Barkley finds his left hook
After spending the last couple of rounds working Duran’s body to try and slow down the older man he finally starts to let his powerful left hook go to the head. This was a major turning point in the fight and stopped Duran from trying to fight on the inside with him, well at least for a little while anyway. More on this later.
Duran just keeps on boxing
Duran gets cracked
Duran starts off throwing a jab to the head, then to the body and eats a left hook for his trouble. After a couple more jabs from both guys Barkley ducks in low before coming up with a huge left hook that badly shakes him.
Christ, what a left hook
You can tell better here that Barkley actually threw a dipping jab (a simultainious jab and duck) to the body. Duran’s right hand missed going over Barkley’s shoulder as he jabbed. Duran sees that Barkley’s head is wide open for a left hook but doesn’t see Barkley’s own hook until the damn thing spun him around. And that folks is why you don’t hook with a hooker. You know what the sickest thing is here? Duran didn’t even seem to mind. He went right back to fighting like it never even happened. What a fucking chin on this guy.
Barkley starts swelling up
Look at Barkley’s left eye here. It is closing up on him. He can’t see those big right hands coming anymore and starts getting beaten up badly.
Duran puts him down
It goes to the judges
Duran is named the winner of a split decision (2 thought Duran won, One thought Barkley) and he Became one of the oldest champions in the history of the sport. The fight was named Fight of the Year by RING magazine in 1989.
Well the movie Hands Of Stone just came out so this seemed like a perfect time to show you guys the style behind all the drama. Plus I’ll take any chance can I get to watch this crazy little man beat the shit out of somebody. What an incredible fighter. I want to thank the Imgur boxing and MMA community, The ESB and Boxing Scene forums and anybody who read the whole thing.