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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Scot to be reunited with WBC belt
Ken Buchanan beat Jim Watt during an illustrious career
Ken Buchanan beat Jim Watt during an illustrious career
Almost 30 years after being stripped of his WBC world championship title, Scotland's Ken Buchanan is to be reunited with the belt in recognition of his contribution to boxing.

The ceremony, to be held in New York on Sunday, is the latest step in the Edinburgh-born lightweight's rehabilitation into the sport's historical canon, following his induction to America's International Hall of Fame last year as the first British fighter to earn the accolade.

When Buchanan gets his hands on the WBC belt, he can add it to the WBA, European and Lonsdale trophies he earned throughout a distinguished, if often fraught career.

The fact that the award will take place in America is indicative of the fact that the Scot has always been more appreciated on the other side of the pond than at home.

Upstaging Ali

Buchanan first rose to prominence on the world stage when he stepped in as a late replacement to challenge WBA champion Ismael Laguna in 1970 and, despite energy-sapping conditions at the open-air venue in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Buchanan did enough to earn a split decision.

Buchanan was disappointed to learn that the WBC did not recognise his win and, to make matters worse, the British Boxing Board of Control followed the lead of the WBC.

When he returned home with the WBA belt, Buchanan was devastated to see only a tiny crowd waiting to welcome him.

A few months later, the Scot's explosive display against Canada's well-respected Donato Paduano at New York's Madison Square Garden completely upstaged the Muhammad Ali - Oscar Bonavena clash it was supporting and ensured Buchanan a place in the hearts of Manhattan's fight afficiandos.

Buchanan prepares to leave for the USA
Buchanan prepares to leave for the USA
In February 1971 the WBC and BBBC announced their approval of Buchanan as champion after he outpointed Ruben Navarro in Los Angeles.

However, when Buchanan signed up for a rematch with Laguna in September, the WBC took back its belt because he failed to meet their designated contender.

It was not Buchanan's first belt-related controversy. Earlier in his career, the fiery fighter sent his Lonsdale belt back to the UK authorities to protest against the meagre purses available.

The second battle with Laguna took place at Madison Square Garden and Buchanan further enhanced his reputation with a splendid display of bravery to overcome the Panamanian.

He suffered bad swelling under his left eye early in the fight which severely limited his vision and had to discard his best weapon - his ferocious left jab - and adopt a slugger's approach.

Buchanan was named 1971 Fighter of the Year in the United States.

Buchanan rarely earned the plaudits he deserved
Buchanan rarely earned the plaudits he deserved
After a fall-out with manager Eddie Thomas, Buchanan's world collapsed in June 1972 when he lost his title to a young Roberto Duran in a real rough-house scrap at Madison Square Garden.

Buchanan, repeatedly fouled, went down from a below-the-belt blow in the 13th round and Duran was given the crown on a technical knockout after the Scot was ruled unable to go on.

Duran, who went on to become one of the sport's all-time greats, refused Buchanan a rematch and years later described the Scot as the toughest and most difficult opponent he had ever faced.

Duran and Laguna will both be present at the ceremony on Sunday.

World champion dream

Buchanan continued to box impressively against first-class fighters, regaining his British title against fellow Scot Jim Watt and stopping local favourite Giancarlo Usai on Italian soil to defend his European title, although he lost out in a world title bout with Ishimatsu Suzuki in Tokyo.

Aged 30, Buchan retired but financial problems forced him back into the ring four years later and, despite suffering defeats from men who could not have lived with him in his prime, he continued for three years before finally hanging up his gloves in 1982 and returning to his first trade, joinery.

Despite not enjoying the riches that his brave endeavours merit, Buchanan is content to bask in his past glories and the return of his WBC belt completes a thoroughly-deserved comeback to the boxing limelight.

Speaking recently to BBC Scotland, Buchanan said: "When I was at school all I wanted to do was fight. All the other kids wanted to do their homework and become doctors. I just wanted to be world champion.

"I've done everything I wanted to do."

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See also:

04 Jun 01 |  Boxing
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