Thirteen years after he first stepped into the ring, six years after his premature retirement from boxing, three years after giving up a life as an alcoholic and drug addict to return to fighting, bantamweight Frankie Duarte is apparently just a formality away from a lifelong dream--a shot at a world title.
Promoter Bob Arum has guaranteed Duarte a fight against World Boxing Assn. bantamweight champ Bernardo Pinango, contingent upon Duarte being ranked among the WBA's top 10 bantamweights. WBA rules forbid title shots for unranked fighters.
"If he gets in the top 10," Arum said, "he's got a title shot."
Last week, Duarte (40-6-1, 30 knockouts) scored a ninth-round technical knockout over Jesus Salud at the Forum to win the North American Boxing Federation bantamweight championship. That, according to several boxing officials, should automatically place Duarte among the WBA's top 10.
Whether Duarte fights in October or November will be determined after Arum settles on several possible bouts. Middleweight champion Marvin Hagler might fight Thomas Hearns or James Kinchen, and there may be a rematch between former WBA featherweight champ Barry McGuigan and Stevie Cruz.
The likely spot for the Duarte-Pinango fight is Caesars Palace on Nov. 6.