Roberto Duran compared to Manny Pacquiao as best ever – Steve Collins EXCLUSIVE

Steve Collins

Roberto Duran is considered to be one of the best fighters to have ever lived (Image: GETTY)

That’s the view of legendary Irish boxer Steve Collins, who spoke exclusively to Express Sport to celebrate the release of new feature documentary I Am Duran.

Alongside Jack Johnson, Duran became just the second man in history to compete in five operate decades in a career that spanned an astonishing 33 years.

World title victories in four different weight classes were ticked off, as were revered battles with the likes of fellow 20th century boxing heroes Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns.

Collins, who was a two-weight world champ himself, doesn’t believe many come close to the talent that Duran had, noting that the Panamanian has historically been mistaken as just a brawler.

“The first time I heard of Roberto Duran I was just a young kid, my dad spoke about him before he fought Sugar Ray Leonard the first time. He won that fight and I became a big fan of him and he became one of the best fighters of my era,” he said.

“There’s no-one that I would put in his category, he’s the best talent that I’ve seen in my time.

“The bell would ring, Duran would leave his corner and come for a fight, he didn’t try and stay in there, he didn’t rely on judges, he never tried to con the people. People that don’t understand the game think he’s a brawler but you can count the number of times he was actually caught clean in fights on one hand.

“He was so important to boxing because he entertained people. When people saw Roberto Duran, it was a case of the better his opponent, the better he performs. He did so much for boxing because every fight he was in was great.”

Roberto Duran is considered to be one of the best fighters to have ever lived

Roberto Duran is considered to be one of the best fighters to have ever lived (Image: GETTY)

Roberto Duran would still be one of the best in the world today, there’s no doubt about that

Steve Collins

And despite losing 16 times, an unimaginable tally of defeats in today’s boxing world if you want to be recognised as an all-time great, Duran’s greatness shone through because of the entertainment he put on, win or lose, according to Collins.

The Irishman added: “People talk about great fighters like [Floyd] Mayweather and so on but Mayweather didn’t entertain me, he’s a runner, he steals fights. Roberto Duran came to fight every single time, there was no razzmatazz, he just did it so well.

“He was so talented and got involved in close fights and at the same time he would move and slip as well as anybody.

“The boxing world is a bigger place now but Roberto Duran would still be one of the best in the world today, there’s no doubt about that. His style would be successful in any era, which can’t be said about all fighters from 25-30 years ago.

“He’s going down as a legend because he hung around until he was 50 years old, he fought guys way outside of his division.”

Mayweather was often criticised for waltzing his way through his career with an unblemished boxing record, cherry-picking fights at will and at the perfect times. But Collins, who beat both Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn twice each as a professional, doesn’t believe that remaining undefeated should be focussed on as much as it is.

“The makings of a great fighter is not a fighter who doesn’t get beat, but one that gets beat and comes back,” he said.

“That is the true test of a champion, that’s a man who has got my admiration, not the guys who pick and choose, go through their career winning and never get beat.”

And when quizzed on who, in today’s era, most resembles the career and achievement of Duran, Collins picked out two formidable names, including an old foe of Mayweather’s.

Steve Collins

Steve Collins is a former two-weight world champion (Image: GETTY)

Floyd Mayweather

Mayweather and Pacquiao fought back in 2015 with the former coming out on top (Image: GETTY)

“Manny Pacquiao for me I’ve always thought was the new Roberto Duran, Pacquiao came on the scene at his prime, we didn’t see a lot of him before that and now he’s hanging around after his prime,” the 54-year-old opined.

“He has to be the closest thing in modern times to Duran but another one was also Julio Cesar Chavez, there’s a lot of common with him. Chavez against Duran would’ve been… what a fight, what a match.

“But For me today, [Vasyl] Lomachenko is the best fighter in the world, he’s a freak of nature, he’s an absolute natural and he’s an entertaining, amazing athlete. He’s such a special fighter.”

I Am Durán is available now on digital download.