1978-01-21 Roberto Duran w rsc 12 (15) Esteban De Jesus, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WORLD
1978-01-21 Roberto Duran w rsc 12 (15) Esteban De Jesus, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WORLD. Referee: Buddy Basilico. In a contest to decide an undisputed champion and one that had been long awaited, De Jesus (134) took the first two or three rounds before Duran (134½) turned it into a war of attrition prior to taking over completely from the sixth onwards. Although De Jesus was still dangerous, as he tired his punches became more and more ineffectual and by the end of the 11th Duran seemed to be in command. Racing out for the 12th, Duran quickly dropped De Jesus with a right to the jaw for the mandatory ‘eight’ and on getting back into action the latter was forced to take a barrage of blows before a heavy right to the jaw put him down again. Having reached ‘eight’, the referee called the count off with 28 seconds of the session remaining to allow De Jesus immediate medical attention.
Duran relinquished the title in January 1979 due to increasing weight problems, having been told by the WBC that he had to defend against Jim Watt. Following the announcement, the latter was immediately matched against Alfredo Pitalua to contest the WBC version of the title.
Meanwhile, the WBA set up two final eliminators between Johnny Lira v Vilomar Fernandez and Ernesto Espana v Claude Noel but, after Fernandez and Lira failed to agree terms the latter contest went ahead for the WBA’s vacant title.