It’s time to break down the Hands of Stone, Roberto Duran. Duran ended his five-decade career having won world championships in 4 different weight classes. He had knocked out 70 competitors in 119 professional fights.
Duran was a technical master at close range fighting, with many of his hardest punches in any given match traveling only inches to their target.
Although much is made of Duran’s infighting, he was a highly skilled boxer on the outside as well. In fact, it was his ability to effortlessly manipulate distance in all ranges that made him such a formidable competitor.
Duran’s strategy was to tie up his opponents and brutalize them from the inside to wear down their defenses.
Duran would punch his way into close range, utilizing unpredictable jabs, feints and head movement. Instead of snapping his punches back to his guard, Duran would circle his hands over and under his opponents guard and into a hold. He was essentially combining his striking and grappling into one movement.
Duran was most successful with a shifting one two, winding his cross around his opponent and then inside their lead arm.
Another staple entering combination was a jab uppercut, allowing Duran to take an inside position right away.
Either of these combinations could be followed with a lead hook that would control his competitor’s opposite hand.
Duran would employ these same techniques defensively, ducking in and circling his hands inside.
Once Duran had control of his opponent’s arms, he had control of the fight.
Duran usually dedicated one hand to striking, and one hand to grappling, and would switch between the two when-ever it gave him an advantage to do so. The grappling hand was essential to Duran’s strategy.
He regularly disturbed his opponent’s balance with over-hooks, under-hooks, and collar ties, taking away their base of support, which limited their punching power. Duran’s constant wresting and barrage of inside punches would exhaust his competitors. By the time Duran threw the knock out blow, he was usually chasing a beaten down, arm weary adversary.
At the same time he was manipulating their balance, Duran was using his other hand to find an inside angle from which to attack.
This was very similar to the hand fighting that wrestlers engage in to get a superior position, except used to set up strikes instead of throws.
A modified elbow tie was now ideal for tight hook punches, while an inside tie lent itself well to uppercuts.
Duran was obsessed with taking the tightest possible angle of attack, always keeping his arms as close as possible to his ribs. This not only allowed him to consistently beat his opponent to the punch, but left them less openings to attack as well.
Duran was able to use the feel of his opponent’s arms against his own to interpret their intent, and defend their movement almost simultaneously.
When he felt a punch coming, he would stiff arm his opponent, or stop the punch short by pushing against their arm.
When he felt an absence of touch, he knew his opponent was loading up, and he would duck, weave, or roll away from the oncoming blows.
As his opponent tired, Duran tied him up less and abandoned his tight angled punches. He instead fought shoulder to shoulder, moving out to mid range to throw more loaded strikes before weaving back to safety on the inside.
While Duran kept his head leaning heavily on his opponents shoulder, he gave his hips much more space. This meant he was deceptively far away, and could easily move between mid and close range simply by moving his torso . It also meant his could generate a great deal of power by shifting his weight from his front to back foot.
Most of Duran’s fight ended with him chasing after an already beaten and battered opponent.
From the Modern Martial Artist, this has been David Christian, wishing you, happy training.
Books by David Christian of The Modern Martial Artist
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