CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) – Roberto Duran, a world champion in four weight divisions over a career that spanned five decades, and Olympic gold medalist Pernell Whitaker, another four-division champion, were voted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Duran and Whitaker were chosen from the modern era, along with undefeated Mexican strawweight champion Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, who held his world crown for more than a decade with a string of 21 successful defenses.

Artist Leroy Neiman topped the list of old-timers, pioneers, non-participants and observers. Other living inductees who will be enshrined June 10 were Argentine trainer Amilcar Brusa and longtime WBC president Jose Sulaiman.

Honored posthumously were heavyweight George Godfrey, lightweight Pedro Montanez, light heavyweight Kid Norfolk, manager/matchmaker Cuco Conde, newspaper cartoonist TAD Dorgan, and 19th century boxers Young Barney Aaron and Dick Curtis.

All three modern era fighters were chosen in their first year of eligibility following a minimum five-year retirement. Members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians chose the inductees.

Duran, now 55 and a boxing promoter, once declared, “I was born to be champion of the world.”

Duran grew up poor in Panama with little education. He started boxing for money and turned professional in 1967 at age 16 and fought until he was 50, finally forced to stop by injuries from a 2001 car accident. Over five decades, “Hands of Stone” Duran compiled a 103-16 record, with 70 knockouts, and won world titles in four divisions: lightweight (1972-1979), welterweight (1980), junior middleweight (1983), and middleweight (1989-1990).

A ferocious but untrained fighter, Duran quickly became a fan favorite as he ran off 21 straight victories as a professional. Mostly a brawler who overwhelmed opponents in his early fights, Duran then came under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Ray Arcel.

“He was a complete fighter,” said trainer Angelo Dundee, a 1992 inductee. “He could beat you with strength. He could outsmart you. He did so much, he made it look easy.”

Although Duran’s opponents included a half-dozen Hall of Famers, his most famous fights were with Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he fought three times in the 1980s.

Duran defeated an unbeaten Leonard in Montreal in June 1980 to claim the WBC welterweight title. He lost to Leonard in a rematch five months later in the infamous “No Mas” fight, in which Duran inexplicably quit before the eighth round. Leonard also won a rubber match in 1989.

Whitaker was a southpaw with a stinging right jab who won more than 200 amateur fights before capturing a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics and turning professional. “Sweet Pea” won the IBF lightweight world championship in 1989 with a 12-round decision over Greg Haugen, and later that year added the WBC belt by beating Jose Luis Ramirez. He unified the championship by taking the WBA title from Juan Nazario in August 1990.

Whitaker, now 42, also captured world titles as IBF light welterweight champion (1992), WBC welterweight champion (1993-1997) and the WBA light middleweight champion (1995). Whitaker retired in 2001 with a 40-4-1 record, with 17 KOs.

The Mexican-born Lopez was one of the most dominant champions in ring history, finishing with a career record of 51-0-1, with 38 KOs. The only blemish on his record was an eighth-round technical draw against Rosendo Alvarez in March 1998, an outcome he avenged in a rematch eight months later.

AP-ES-12-07-06 1329EST


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