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Duran inducted into World Boxing Hall of Fame

10/15/2006 - Boxing

LOS ANGELES -- Roberto Duran once said, "There is only one
legend. That's me."

As he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame Saturday
night, there was no reason for him to think differently.

"That's right, it's me," he declared through an interpreter
minutes before his introduction. "Everybody says it: black, white;
everybody calls me a legend. Italians, Jews. Everybody."

Duran, 51, looked little like the man who won five major titles
while compiling a 103-16 record with 69 knockouts between
1972-1989.

When he was introduced, he walked into the ballroom carrying a
flag of his native Panama, having just minutes earlier said that
his induction was important not only for himself "but for the
whole country of Panama and for my president. ... All of Panama is
going into that Hall of Fame."

Duran was the biggest name of the 13 inductees that included
former champions Matthew Saad Muhammad, Julian Jackson and Eddie
Perkins, and announcer Barry Tompkins, and it seemed as if all of
the nearly 900 attendees wanted to catch a glimpse, get an
autograph or tell of their favorite Duran moment or fight.

That was the case earlier Saturday when, at an autograph
session, an estimated 300 people mobbed him and waited in line for
his signature.

At the ceremony, Hall of Fame referee Gwen Adair's most
memorable Duran moment was when Duran famously quit during the
eighth round of his second fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. "I was
shocked he said 'No mas,' " Adair said. "He's a macho guy."

For some, it was the knockout of Ken Buchanan on June 26, 1972,
that gave Duran his first major title, the WBA lightweight crown.

Others thought his decision over Iran Barkley in 1989 that gave
Duran the WBC middleweight crown was best.

And plenty recalled his epic fights with Leonard, one fan even
walking around with a shirt promoting their third fight, which
Leonard won.

Duran's favorite fight: none of the above. He chose the victory
in Panama over Nato Marcel that game him his first title.

Duran said his earliest fights in Panama, "a lot of fights you
don't know about," were his toughest because he was an
inexperienced teenage fighter going up against older, veteran
fighters Duran feels could have become world champions and were
"tougher fighters than when I fought Leonard."

Those early matches helped hone his ferociousness in the ring,
and on Saturday Duran boasted he was afraid of no fighter in the
ring. It was that savagery that helped Duran win fans and earn
enshrinement, which he said "is the biggest title a retired
fighter can get."