Robert Duran Jr. Forges His Own Championship Path

(October 25, 2023) – Alcibiade “Robert” Duran Jr. (12-3, 9 KOs) will be on the biggest fight bill of his career on Saturday, October 28th, when he faces undefeated prospect Jack “The Pilgrim” McGann (8-0-1, 5 KOs), on the “Battle of the Baddest” undercard at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The fight is the only non-heavyweight bout on the card, with the other six fights involving the big men of the sport, capped off by the main event between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

“The opportunity knocked on my door,” said an ecstatic Duran Jr. to The Final Bell podcast two weeks before the fight. “It was God’s gift to me. I’m very excited for this fight. It’s huge.”

Indeed, 2023 has been a massive year for Duran Jr., largely because of his key steps to get his career on track. In March, the son of the legendary “Hands of Stone” joined Pedro Diaz’s Mundo Boxing Gym in Florida, where he trains under the tutelage of Diaz and David Peña.

“Ever since my transition to those guys, it’s been a complete 100% turnaround,” Duran Jr. explains his improvement under the new training team. “The training regimen is completely different. It’s how you’re supposed to train a fighter, so I’ve been in the zone ever since then. We go through hell in the gym so that we can execute on all possibilities when we get in the ring. It’s how you build world champions. I love every minute of it.”

A month later, the Miami native signed a promotional pact with Jimmy Burchfield’s CES Boxing. The pair were initially introduced by Vinny Paz, a mentor to Robert, who is also his father’s former opponent, but a deal didn’t materialize until a while later.

“The agreement with Jimmy came about after my wife and I sat down and contacted different promotional companies to try to stay busy,” says Duran Jr. “We spoke with Jimmy and established a game plan, and here we are now.”

That game plan includes lots of activity on the road to a title shot. The result has been a year in which Duran has had three bouts, with three wins and a fight on one of the most high-profile cards of the year. Given the activity and new training regime, it’s an opportunity that Duran feels more than ready for.

“I’ve been preparing since May 20th,” says Duran, referencing his last fight, a 6-round unanimous decision win over veteran Luis Florez at The Park Theater in Cranston, Rhode Island. “I’ve been in training camp ever since, so when I got the news for this fight, I just turned it up a few notches. I’m focused and ready to go.”

In his way stands Jack McGann, a 30-year-old Brit who is undefeated in 8 professional bouts.

“He’s an ex-MMA fighter turned boxer,” says Duran of ‘The Pilgrim,’ who is 11-5 in mixed martial arts. “He’s a good fighter, but at the end of the day, I’m a good fighter too, and I have a vision and goals that I need to accomplish. I willRobert Duran Jr. Forges his own Championship PathRobert Duran Jr. Forges his own Championship Path set the tone, take my time, and look for opportunities.”

Regardless of how McGann elects to fight him, Duran Jr. believes he can adapt.

“I’m just gonna go in there and box, but I can switch styles,” elaborates Duran. “I can brawl, I can box, I can switch to southpaw. It really depends on my opponent and what I’m seeing in the ring. I’m going to look for weaknesses and patterns and take it from there. Every fight is different.”

Duran feels indifferent when asked whether his famous father will be present at the biggest fight of his career.

“I heard he was gonna be at my fight, but that doesn’t change anything,” admits Duran Jr., who grew up in Miami and upstate New York with his grandparents, seldomly seeing his father. “I’m there for one reason only. I’m there to win, and that’s it.”

Growing up apart from his legendary father meant that while Robert Jr. studied Roberto’s fights from afar, he didn’t feel obligated to be like his father.

“There are a few of his fights that I’ve watched and learned from,” says Duran Jr., citing his father’s first fight with ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard and his bouts against Esteban de Jesus, Pepino Cuevas, and Iran Barkley. “Those are great performances. His comeback fight against Davie Moore was incredible. I respect my father in and out of the ring. As a fighter, he was second to none.”

While Robert is unsure whether his father keeps tabs on his career, the younger Duran is not counting on him being by his side on October 28th. Robert Duran Jr. Forges His Own Championship Path

“I don’t expect my Dad to be in my corner if he wasn’t in my corner before, and I, Robert Duran Jr., Forges his own Championship Path prefer it this way,” explains Duran Jr. “My Dad already established his career and his legacy. At the end of the day, I’m not following in his footsteps. I’m keeping the name alive but doing my own thing. All the pressure really came off my shoulders a long time ago once I realized that I didn’t have to prove anything to my father. Everything I gotta prove is to myself, nobody else.”

Given the amount of undue pressure that children of famous boxers often feel, this is a wise way to deal with the lofty expectations put on them by critics who expect the sons to achieve the same level of success as their fathers.

“Even if your father’s a legend in the sport, you’re doing it alone,” agrees Duran Jr. “It’s your career. It’s your path – you’re walking it alone. You’re doing everything with your team, your family, whoever is behind you. They have to respect that whether they like it or not, because that’s how it is.”

That’s not to say that Robert Duran Jr. doesn’t have his own ambitious goals.

“My goal is to stay active and get a title shot down the line,” says the 34-year-old, who got a late start in boxing at 25. “My vision is to win at least one world title. Two would be great, but I’m aiming for one. Right now, I’m just focused on building my career up to that level so that when I get there, I’m ready for whoever is the champion at that time.”

An impressive win on the biggest Robert Duran Jr. Forges his own Championship Pathstages on October 28th would go a long way into making that vision a reality.

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