History | Feb 24 2019

On This Day: Roberto Duran sensationally beats Iran Barkley to win world middleweight title

Roberto Duran upset the odds when he outpointed reigning WBC champion Iran Barkley
roberto duran
Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

1. Younger and naturally bigger, WBC world middleweight champion Iran Barkley – fresh from an electric three-round demolition of Tommy Hearns to win the strap – was a 2.5-1 favourite to successfully defend his title against the 37-year-old Roberto Duran in 1989. The Panamanian had taken 19 months out after his savage two-round stoppage loss to Hearns in ’84 and had since been beaten by Robbie Sims over 10 rounds.

2. The pair met at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, and in our preview we tipped Barkley to retain his crown on points in a hard-fought scrap. 7,090 people attended the fight but had to brave a freak coastal blizzard in order to do so.

3. As expected, the fight began at a lively pace with Barkley firing his venomous jab out relentlessly, only for Roberto to make the majority of them hit fresh air. Towards the end of the opening three minutes Duran clubbed Barkley with a right to knock him back onto his heels, but did not have enough time to capitalise.