A clever boxer, Buchanan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and turned pro in 1965. He won both the Scottish and British lightweight crowns before traveling to the United States and gaining world-wide recognition.
In 1970, Buchanan, fighting outside of the British Empire for the first time, lost to Miguel Velasquez in Madrid, Spain, in a bid to capture the European 135-pound title. By year's end, though, he'd conquer the world.
Buchanan challenged lightweight champion Ismael Laguna on September 26, 1970 in Puerto Rico. The temperature inside Hiram Bithorn Stadium reached 100-degrees as these master boxers put on a sterling exhibition. Buchanan rocked the champion in the 12th round and won the title via narrow split decision -- 145-144 (twice) and 144-145. He became the first British lightweight champ since Freddie Welsh in 1917.
In 1971, Buchann successfully defended his title twice, copping 15-round decisions over Ruben Navarro in Los Angeles and Laguna at Madison Square Garden in New York. A year later, Buchanan would return to the Garden for his most controversial and memorable contest.
On June 26, 1972 Buchanan put his belt on the line against Roberto Duran (Duran scored an impressive kayo on the undercard of the Buchanan-Laguna rematch). Duran dropped Buchanan early and controlled much of the action. At the close of Round 13, the fighters swapped punches. Buchanan claimed he was kneed in the groin. Referee Johnny LoBianco, however, did not see the infraction. The fight was stopped before the 14th round could begin and Duran was rewarded with the victory and the title.
Buchanan came back three months later and stopped future Hall-of-Famer Carlos Ortiz in six rounds. In 1973, he decisioned future world champ Jim Watt to regain the British lightweight title. He lost in his only other world-title bid, dropping a decision in 1975 to WBC champ Ishimatsu Suzuki.
Buchanan was inactive from 1976 to 1978 and fought sporadically until retiring for good in 1983.