History | Aug 28 2019

On This Day: William Joppy thrashed Roberto Duran in the Panamanian’s final world title fight

Matt Christie tells the sad story of Roberto Duran's third round August 28, 1998 defeat to William Joppy
Roberto Duran vs William Joppy
William Joppy (R), WBA Middleweight champion, of Washington D.C., pummels boxing legend Roberto Duran of Panama against the ropes in round two August 28 at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas. Referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight in the third round, giving Joppy a TKO victory. Duran, 47, a former five-time world champion, was trying for a comeback against the 27-year-old Joppy.  |  Action Images/Reuters

1. ROBERTO DURAN’S shot at WBA middleweight champion William Joppy was originally scheduled to take place on June 6, 1999, on the undercard of Evander Holyfield-Henry Akinwande until the spidery Brit tested positive for Hepatitis B and rendered the whole bill redundant.

2. DESPITE his glorious past, very few felt that Duran – at 47 years old – could add to his hefty miracle list against a man 20 years younger. It wasn’t only Duran’s advanced age that was going against him ahead of the August 28, 1998 showdown at the Las Vegas Hilton; the location did not bode well either. Duran had not won in Sin City since outpointing Luigi Minchillo in 1981. Since then, he had lost to Wilfred Benitez, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Robbie Sims, Sugar Ray Leonard, Pat Lawlor, and Vinny Pazienza.

Roberto Duran (L) and WBA middleweight champion William Joppy pose after a press conference August 26 in Las Vegas ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS

3. ALTHOUGH Duran claimed he fought on for the love of it, money worries fuelled his long career. He owed money to the US taxman, as well as maintenance for a child in Florida. It was reported that his $250,000 purse was $50,000 short of covering his tax bill.