Robert Duran Jr on ‘carrying the legacy’ and his relationship with legendary father

Robert Duran Jr on ‘carrying the legacy’ and his relationship with legendary father

At the other end of the phone should be one of the most famous voices in boxing, capable of delivering some of the most piercingly perceptive insight. But for Robert Duran Jr, who is licking his wounds after a first major defeat, the phone does not ring.

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“The last time I spoke to him was a couple of years ago [before] his movie premiered,” Duran Jr tells Sky Sports. “My older sister somehow got in contact with him and I spoke to him for five minutes. That was it.”

His famous father is Roberto Duran, the Panamanian legend know as Manos de Piedra or Hands of Stone, a four-weight world champion who boxed in five decades. He was one of the Four Kings, a group of 1980s middleweights including Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns who remain the benchmark. Duran retired with a 103-16 record and is still revered for his savagery and success inside the ring.

His son Robert Duran Jr watched him gooey-eyed as a child.

“My mom and grandparents would show me his fights, and tell me who he was. I was proud, when I was younger. It was a great feeling to have a father figure of that status but, as I got older, I realised he wasn’t around so I no longer have the feelings that a son should have towards his father.

“When he trained in Miami I would see him a little bit. It was off and on.”

Duran Jr was born shortly before his father’s 92nd fight, a win over Iran Barkley in 1989.

Thirty years later, father and son have “no relationship” according to Duran Jr.

Which makes it all the more curious that, after being raised in New York by his mother’s side of the family, Duran Jr has carried the significant baggage of his surname into the boxing ring. He won his first three fights but recently lost a four-rounder. Any hype he may still generate is, at the moment, quelled.

Remarkably the man in the corner for Duran Jr is Vinny Paz, who twice defeated his father in the mid-90s.

“Vinny Paz saw my dad at a boxing convention and told him: ‘Is it okay if I train your son?’

“My dad said: ‘it’s fine’.

“But you should be training me, not somebody else. Or at least be in my corner, or give me advice. Share your expertise to make me better, being that I am your son. I carry the name, the legacy and I am the only one of my brothers to currently be fighting.”

It seems a shame that Duran Jr can’t tap into the wealth of knowledge his father has.


Has his father ever acknowledged his son’s career as a boxer?

“Not directly but he has told other people to tell me.”

Robert Duran Jr is the second of his father’s children to follow him into boxing. Roberto Duran Jr, born and raised in Panama to a different mother, won five out of seven fights between 2000-2004.

It took Robert Duran Jr, in New York, until he was 29 to fight professionally.

“Me and my dad’s story is similar. When he was growing up he ran the streets, fighting. I was the same, and it continued for a long time.

“A couple of things happened to me that I don’t want to get into. Certain experiences that made me think my life over, and realise it was time to change.”

But starting a new career where his surname carries legendary status is problematic. It is, also, a well-trodden path – Chris Eubank Jr, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Laila Ali have fought proudly despite the pressures of their fathers’ successes.

“It has its perks but I don’t see it as an advantage,” Duran Jr says about his name. “It is difficult for my career to take off properly.

“If I didn’t have my name, and my father wasn’t who he is, I would be at a higher level.

“It has been difficult getting fights consistently, keeping a steady flow.”

He is street-wise to people trying to take advantage: “I’ve run into a couple of these people. Everybody smiles to your face but, down the line, you realise their true intentions.”

Losing his fourth fight to Jermaine Corley (who has only won three out of 10) was an unforeseen setback.

“It was a dirty fight – he headbutted and pushed me constantly but the referee didn’t do anything, no warnings, no points deductions, he just let it happen. I was really upset about that.

“My game-plan was to stay in the pocket, and get him out early. I should have boxed, not brawled, with a bigger guy.”

“I don’t find it difficult. I learn by watching his fights. It is my homework.”

It is suggested that Duran Jr could make life easier for himself by boxing with a moniker other than the famous surname.

“No,” he snaps. “It doesn’t matter what relationship I have with my dad, good or bad. It is still my name. It is a must that I carry the name.”


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