1. AT 23 years of age, contesting his 50th professional bout, Roberto Duran met Ray Lampkin in his country’s capital, Panama City in 1975. The fight marked Duran’s sixth defence of his WBA lightweight title, and he entered the match-up in fine form, having demolished his previous three opponents in the first round.
2. RAY LAMPKIN was no stranger to the big occasion, nor to entering the lion’s den. Two years prior he had travelled to Puerto Rico to face the fearsome Estaban De Jesus [a man who had beaten Duran] – losing a unanimous decision. But in the time that followed, Lampkin had complied a string of impressive wins, picking up the NABF lightweight title along the way. He entered the bout with Duran a worthy opponent.
3. IT was the Oregon man who started the more promising of the two. Lampkin stayed at range, picking careful shots as he manoeuvred the canvas, but also showed that he was happy to stand and exchange with Duran. In the second stanza, ‘Lightning Lampkin’ even got the better of the champion, as he directed right hands into the Panamanian’s ribs.
4. THE outdoor arena proved the ideal climate for the home fighter – the humidity was a huge advantage – and young Duran took advantage of its effects on his opponent. His relentless work-rate wore down Lampkin, and the challenger became open to unnecessary fire.
5. AS the fight progressed into the latter rounds, it became clear that the very best of Lampkin’s punches weren’t going to cause an upset, he could only hope to make the final bell.
6. BY making it out for the twelfth round, Lampkin had overtaken De Jesus as Duran’s longest-lasting opponent. But his body language was that of a beaten man. He sported a lump under his right eye, a target Duran continued to exact damage upon.
7. BY the fourteenth round, Lampkin was fighting on heart and instinct, but it wasn’t going to be enough to see him through.
8. 39 seconds into the round, Duran caught Lampkin with a thunderous left-hook to the jaw. The impact with which he met the canvas done more damage than the punch that put him there. He was unable to rise.
9. AFTER the bout, Duran was asked about his opponent’s state. A now infamous quote was spoken: “I was not in my best condition. Today I sent him to the hospital. Next time I’ll put him in the morgue.”
10. THE incident rendered Lampkin unconscious for 30 minutes. And with his leg temporarily paralyzed, he spent five days in hospital. Duran made a point of visiting his opponent in the infirmary, planting a kiss on a resting Lampkin’s cheek.