Originally Posted by Addie
I disagree with the consensus. Duran had a fantastic career, and was obviously incredible at his brilliant best, but I don't think he was harder to beat or a better fighter than Leonard at his best. In fact, I think New Orleans Leonard beats any version of Duran. Reg Guttridge once said that he was slightly disappointed by Duran getting destroyed by Hearns and that it hurts his legacy. That's ridiculous, Hearns was a monster of a man, but what should be called into question is his loss to Wilfred Benitez. Duran was thoroughly outboxed, and for man who's considered to be among the most skilled operators to have ever laced them up, it's disappointing that he was never able to change it up against Benitez, the same man who was outboxed and well beaten by both Ray and Hearns. Duran can usually fall back on an excuse to do with lack of training or too much partying, but he was ready for Benitez...he was just outboxed. Poor showing. Can you imagine if Ray was outboxed as thoroughly as Duran was in his match-up with Benitez? He'd have been crucified on the Classic.
...And for all of that, I voted for Duran. The man had a greater career given his weight jumping and his two incredible, mind-blowing wins over Leonard and Barkley, I just don't think he was a better fighter than Leonard on both of their best days.
Given that Duran was a very elite lightweight and Leonard a very elite welterweight "on their best days", why would Leonard beating Duran count for so much? Honestly even if you rated them the same, common sense would have to tell you that Leonard being the naturally bigger fighter should be able to beat Duran. The fact that he didn't is an amazing accomplishment for Duran.
As I re-read your post I realized this is essentially what you said..