Right after 🇵🇷Wilfred “El Radar” Benitez (45-1-0, 28KO👊) defeated future Titlist Carlos Santos, on this day, January 30th, 1982, a living legend was next up for Benitez, that being “Manos de Piedra” himself, Roberto Duran (74-2-0, 56KO👊), who was vying for Benitez 2nd defense of his WBC Super-Welterweight World Title. Duran was widely regarded as the greatest Lightweight Champion of all time, and after his reign, he continued up the ranks in weight, trying to become a 3-division Titlist himself.
PANAMA & PUERTO RICO’S BEST GO AT IT IN MAJOR SUPER-WELTERWEIGHT BOUT
Coming into the fight with an absurd 74-2 record, Duran was one of the most intimidating fighters to ever lace them up, and opponents often lost their confidence just by looking at him right before the opening bell as Duran’s eyes were pierced on them, with the classic sneer to match. Benitez looked as cool as ever, and he had treated it as if it was any other fight.
The match started off in typical fashion with Wilfred Benitez establishing an outside jab, feinting and gauging Roberto’s tendencies, while Duran was trying to find ways to get on the inside. Duran found some success in round 2, but Benitez made adjustments, and everything seemed to go downhill from there for the heralded challenger. Duran would try to utilize his different angles and a variation of multiple jabs to charge in, but Benitez would sniff out everything Duran was trying to do, and thwarted his attacks by either taking a step around to dodge it, or countering over Duran’s shots.
Benitez appeared to be fully in his element in the middle rounds, and Duran was having difficulty doing what he does best, and that was his in-fighting. Showing why one of his nicknames was “El Radar”, Benitez slipped many punches just by a hair. Duran did however rally back to win the 9th round. In the last third of the fight, Duran turned up the pressure, and the exchanges between the two were beginning to even out, however wasn’t very reflective on the ebbs and flow of the fight in terms of how well Benitez dictated the earlier rounds.
Benitez capped off the night with a strong showing in rounds 13, 14 and 15 to close the show. After the 🛎️final bell, Benitez tried to give Roberto his patented hug, but Duran in typical fashion brushed him off, displaying bad sportsmanship. Benitez felt some type of way about it, so he began to taunt Duran in retaliation by flailing his arm around afterwards, reminiscent of Duran’s infamous second fight with the great “Sugar” Ray Leonard that led to Duran quitting mid-bout that night. Benitez was hoisted on the shoulders of his people, and was paraded around the ring. It was the most joyous scene of Benitez’s entire career (pictured below).
I was personally very surprised to hear how close the 3 official judges had it. Albeit a Unanimous Decision, all judges had it either 1 round, or 2 rounds apart. Nevertheless, Wilfred Benitez was awarded the decision, and kept his WBC Super-Welterweight belt. This achievement solidified Benitez legacy as being one of the all-time greats in boxing history.