Duran booked his world title shot against the exceptionally talented Scottish boxer Ken Buchanan for the WBA lightweight title on 26 June 1972 at Madison Square Garden. The contest was a classic boxer versus slugger affair. In the end the twenty one year old Duran's unrelenting remorseless attacking style proved to be too much for the upright European style boxing favoured by the champion. Just as the bell ended the thirteenth round sounded and on the blind side of the referee Duran landed a low looking blow that dropped Buchanan like the proverbial sack of spuds. The referee not seeing the foul blow ruled it a Duran victory when a clearly distressed Buchanan was unable to come out for the fourteenth round. There has been much controversy surrounding the outcome of this contest and having seen the video of the fight myself I believe that Duran was lucky to escape disqualification. Had the contest been fought today Buchanan would have been allowed five to ten minutes to recover and a point would have been deducted from Duran. That said, at the time of the stoppage Duran was well ahead on points and simply had too much for the brave Scottish boxer.
They never had a rematch and some Buchanan supporters point to this as proof that Duran wanted no part of him again. Years later when the award winning journalist and fellow countryman of Buchanan, Hugh McIlvanney asked Duran who had given him his toughest fight Duran answered 'Buchanan.' (He was unaware of McIlvanney's nationality and was not trying to be polite; this would be totally out of character for the uncompromising Duran if he was!) My own opinion is that Buchanan was never the same after the Duran fight and had the two met again it would have been another absorbing match but Duran would have overwhelmed Buchanan again.