Ken Buchanan was one of the finest lightweights of the modern era. A boxer par excellence, Buchanan would have held his own against any lightweight in boxing history.
It speaks volumes of the Scots’ talent that the fearsome Roberto Duran, at the peak of his powers, would not face Buchanan again after controversially beating the Scot on a 13th round knockout at Madison Square Garden, New York in June 1972. Duran’s punches strayed low that night and the stylish Buchanan gave the Panamanian hardman all the trouble he could handle.
Born in Edinburgh on January 28, 1945, Buchanan’s rise was slow by today’s standards and, after turning pro in November 1965, most of his early contests were in sporting clubs where he picked up the Scottish and later the British title with an 11th round knockout of Maurice Cullen. He was unsuccessful in a European title bid against Spaniard Miguel Velasquez in Madrid, but consolidated at British level with a fifth round stoppage of Brian Hudson.
The Scot’s finest hour came in September 1970 when he travelled to San Juan and produced a boxing masterclass to upset Panamanian Ismael Laguna on points to win the WBA lightweight crown. Successful defences against Ruben Navarro and Laguna followed before that painful reverse against Duran. But Buchanan wasn’t finished and returned home to outpoint fellow Scot and future WBC champion Jim Watt to win the Lonsdale Belt outright before claiming the European crown with a sixth round knockout over Italian Antonio Puddu in Cagliari.
Buchanan had earned one final crack at the big time, but lost on points in a bid for the WBC crown against Japanese champion Guts Ishimatsu in Tokyo. He enjoyed sporadic success thereafter until finally quitting in November 1981.
Ken Buchanan: Fights 69, Wins 62, Losses 7 (Knockouts 28).
By Mark G. Butcher