Duran is denied by the judges

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Roberto Duran suffered a points defeat by a younger and speedier Hector "Macho" Camacho in their fight for the vacant International Boxing Council middleweight crown in Atlantic City.

Six days after his 45th birthday, the Panamanian Duran came into the ring on Saturday in his best fighting shape since he upset Iran Barkley seven years ago to win the World Boxing Council middleweight title at the same venue.

But the 34-year-old Camacho, from Puerto Rico, flicked his faster jab and then ducked out of trouble to take an unpopular 12-round unanimous decision.

"I fought a legend," said Camacho, a former junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world champion. "I was outboxing him and I kept moving. I fought just the way I wanted to."

Many in the crowd of nearly 5,000 booed the verdict by the three American judges. Tim Figley scored it 115-113, Paul Venti 117-11 and Dana DePaolo 116-113. Duran, who has also won world titles at lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight, claimed: "The judges beat me. The worst thing that could have happened was a draw."

In the build-up to the bout, Duran's manager Luis deCubas had acknowledged that if his fighter lost, he would advise him to call it quits. But after the narrow margin of defeat and the doubts about the decision, the Duran camp were quickly changing their mind and the promoter Mike Acri said: "There is no question, we want a rematch."

On the undercard, the former world heavyweight champion James "Buster" Douglas, the only man to beat Mike Tyson, started a comeback after six years out of the ring by stopping Tony La Rosa after three rounds of their scheduled 10-round meeting.

"It was good to be back," the 36-year-old Douglas said of his lay-off since losing the title to Evander Holyfield in October 1990, eight months after knocking out Tyson.

But it was barely a fight as Douglas, who was in a diabetic coma in 1994, unleashed puches at will on the journeyman from Chicago. La Rosa was bleeding from the nose by the end of the first round and in the third Douglas knocked him down with a vicious left uppercut.

The American Michael Moorer regained the vacant International Boxing Federation heavyweight title with a split decision over Axel Schulz in Dortmund on Saturday.