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On this day: Thomas Hearns destroys Roberto Duran in two, scores knockout of the decade

Hearns attacks Duran. Photo by Ring Magazine/ Getty Images
15
Jun

It was a bittersweet moment.

On June 15, 1984, outdoors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Thomas Hearns scored his most ruthless and devastating finish – a “wow” moment for fight fans the world over. Unfortunately, however, it was beloved Panamanian legend Roberto Duran on the receiving end of an unforgettable second-round knockout. The official time was 1:07.

Hearns, the Ring and WBC junior middleweight champion, was making the third defense of the titles he picked up from Wilfred Benitez (MD 15) in December 1982. Duran had won the WBA version from then-unbeaten Davey Moore in June 1983, but was stripped as soon as he entered the ring with Hearns for failing to agree terms with mandatory challenger Mike McCallum.

Despite the fact that Duran was coming off a 15-round unanimous decision loss to middleweight champ Marvelous Marvin Hagler, he was on terrific form. “Hands of Stone” had scored consecutive stoppage triumphs over former long-reigning welterweight titleholder Pipino Cuevas (TKO 4) and Moore (TKO 8) before giving Hagler the toughest test of his championship career to date.



Following a wild exchange up-close, Hearns located the perfect distance for the coup de grace

Against Hearns, he didn’t have a prayer.

“The Hitman” scored with the jab from the opening bell and dropped Duran with a big right hand late in the round. The challenger rose on unsteady legs but Hearns put him on the backfoot immediately with a furious two-fisted assault punctuated by a body blow that lifted Duran off the canvas and put him down again.

When the bell rang to end the round, Duran walked to the wrong corner.

A knockout artist like Hearns finding the mark this early spelled doom and so it became. Duran couldn’t set himself to fire back and absorbed blow upon blow in the second. A vicious right hand from Hearns put the former champ into dreamland although Duran still managed to avoid one or two potentially fight ending shots.

Following a wild exchange up-close, Hearns located the perfect distance for the coup de grace. A pair of innocuous left jabs to the body disguised the champion’s signature weapon – a pulverizing right cross. Duran was knocked out cold upon impact and landed flat on his face.

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