Champs unite to reminisce

Roberto Duran and Ken Buchanan will
be amongst more than 80 former champions gathering in Cardiff this week for the
WBC Night of Champions event.

Joe Calzaghe, Miguel Cotto, Vitali
Klitschko, Erik Morales and Nigel Benn are also amongst confirmed guests. Duran
won Buchanan’s world lightweight crown after a controversial low blow in
Madison Square Garden in 1972.

“I’m particularly looking forward
to seeing my good friend Roberto Duran,” Buchanan said of the Cardiff event.
Despite a long and colourful pursuit, Scotland’s Buchanan was never given a
rematch with the Panamanian legend.

For many the highlight will be
seeing Buchanan and Duran back together, following their infamous meeting 38
years ago.

Edinburgh’s Buchanan, who spent the
first five years of his career in Wales working with Eddie Thomas and Howard
Winstone, went into the fight as the WBA champion, having upset the great
Panamanian Ismael Laguna nearly two years earlier. Duran had just turned 21 but
was undefeated in 28 fights.

He dropped Buchanan early and
controlled the early rounds and there were few signs the bout would turn into
one of the most controversial in boxing history. At the end of round 13,
Buchanan claimed he was kneed in the groin, but referee Johnny LoBianco did not
see any infraction and the fight was stopped before the 14th round could begin.
The Scot, who claims he suffers groin pains from the punch to this day,
launched a long and fruitless pursuit of a rematch.

Most bizarrely, at the age of 50 in
1995 he packed in his job as a joiner to fly to New York and attempt to
confront Duran. Ending up in a bar in Harlem, he was recognised from the 1972
fight and welcomed into a local bed and breakfast. He spent a fruitless two
weeks seeking Duran in the local gyms and bars, before eventually flying home
and recovering his job.

“I am very excited about the
festival, it’s great to have so many talented boxers together under the same
roof,” said Buchanan. “It’s looking to be a fantastic weekend.”

The Night of Champions at the
Cardiff International Arena on 31 July is the culmination of a three-day boxing
festival in the Welsh capital.

It begins on Friday with the
premiere of the movie of the life of Welsh great Howard Winstone, ‘Risen’. The
next night sees a high-quality amateur boxing night with Team Great Britain
taking on the rest of the world.

Barry’s European bantamweight
bronze medallist Andrew Selby faces Chinese star Jiawei Zhang, while Cardiff
welterweight Fred Evans also faces a formidable challenge against 2009 US
National champion Errol Spence.