5 of the best welterweight boxing title fights

What are some of the best fights in the history of the welterweight division? Fansided MMA takes a look at five that standout in the history of the weight class.
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1. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran I - WBC Welterweight Title

June 20, 1980

Ray Leonard's classic bout with Thomas Hearns may be the choice most would go with, but his 1980 battle with Roberto Duran was every bit as good. And in terms of sustained action, it was even better.

Duran made a hall-of-fame career at lightweight and moved up to the welterweight division in 1978. Often forgotten is that Duran had about eight fights above lightweight before facing Leonard. One of which was against former welterweight champion Carlos Palomino.

Leonard, an Olympic gold medalist, stopped Wilfred Benitez for the WBC welterweight title in 1979. Heading into the Duran fight, he scored one of the best knockouts of his career against Dave Green in a title defense.

The perception from Duran was that Leonard was a fighter that had been gift-wrapped all of his opportunities. This notion fueled the former lightweight champion into making the bout personal.

In what would turn out to be a fight that would be studied for years to come, Leonard-Duran put on a technical brawl that has aged like wine. The smaller Duran utilized his entire arsenal and all his savvy to force Leonard to fight him in a close-quartered war.

Duran's performance is often cited when his first fight with Leonard is mentioned. However, what makes the bout a true classic is that Leonard never backed down. Even knowing that he was goaded into a clash, Leonard was competitive in every round. In fact, in the championship rounds of a 15-round war, it was Leonard who was pushing the fight as the aggressor, steadily throwing combinations.

Duran would win a close unanimous decision by just one point from two of three judges. The victory is considered one of the absolute best in the history of boxing.

Leonard-Duran was a highly skilled melee that should be put into the Smithsonian. If there is a welterweight fight that should be put into a time capsule to show what boxing was to those in the future, the first match between Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran has as good of an argument as any in history.

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