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The Scot was a cut or two above the challenger
Mark Kram
September 27, 1971
Ken Buchanan held on to his world lightweight title by a razor's edge—and by some late flurries against fast-retreating Ismael Laguna
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September 27, 1971

The Scot Was A Cut Or Two Above The Challenger

Ken Buchanan held on to his world lightweight title by a razor's edge—and by some late flurries against fast-retreating Ismael Laguna

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This was not a description of the Laguna who won the title back in Panama in 1965. He was 21 then, not far removed from the bush country. At 14 he materialized in the steaming, wild gyms of Colon, and he was soon known throughout Panama as El Tigre. He had a zest then, a flair out of the ring that seems to have burned out along with all of his once immense abilities. The memory is that he had more speed and more natural rhythm than ever had been seen in the lightweight division.

"He's a beauty," Honest Bill Daly used to say. Daly managed Carlos Ortiz, from whom Laguna won the title.

It is hardly a secret that Honest Bill, whose conspiratorial manner and deft gift for turning a dollar are widely celebrated, thinks of Buchanan as a beauty, too. Like a sea lion a bit long in the tooth, Honest Bill surfaced last week to the amusement of many, one of whom was not Eddie Thomas. It was not known whether the old lion was hungry or just trying to keep in practice.

Thomas' concern with Daly, emphasized by the presence of two bodyguards, emanates from their encounter in San Juan when Buchanan, an unknown then, won the title from Laguna. The Scot won it by one point (a thing comparable to snow in Miami), and it is generally thought that Daly contributed that point. He is a figure of large persuasion in Puerto Rico, the first person Thomas contacted when he saw how hopeless the situation was.

"You can't take the title from Laguna here, Eddie," said Honest Bill. "You got to go to war."

Thomas inquired as to how. and Daly, behind a cupped hand, whispered, "Leave it to me."

The next time Thomas heard that whisper was when he had to reject Honest Bill's price for his war—nothing less than a piece of Buchanan.

The old pirate always did have a sense of value.

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