Thirty years ago today in Atlantic City, New Jersey a British fighter pulled off a truly stunning upset victory over a man many listed as the best in the world pound-for-pound at the time. Lloyd Honeyghan, a Jamaican-born Londoner, met Texan Donald Curry in a fight that contested the world welterweight crown. What followed was a fight and a win that had British fight fans dancing in the streets.
Curry, unbeaten at 25-0, was one fight removed from a chilling 2nd-round icing of “The Ice Man,” Milton McCrory. The December 1985 win saw Curry add the WBC crown to the WBA and IBF belts he already held. Now undisputed king and, in the opinion of many, both unbeatable AND capable of moving up and not only challenging but defeating middleweight king Marvin Hagler, Curry was at his blinding peak. Honeyghan might also have been undefeated but in the opinion of nearly everyone, he didn’t have a chance.
But Honeyghan, one tough hombre who was 27-0 (but had not faced anyone of Curry’s formidable class) didn’t care at all about Curry’s reputation. A whopping 7-1 underdog on those betting sites that actually posted odds, Honeyghan was to pick up a bundle (his manager, the knowledgable Micky Duff, placed a considerable wager on a Honeyghan win, also placing some of his fighter’s pay check on an upset win).
Curry might have struggled to make the 147-pound limit, but there could be no excuses after a relentless Honeyghan battered, bloodied and bested the defending champ many called the new Sugar Ray Leonard. Showing incredible energy, aggression and toughness mixed in with some street fighting-like tactics, “The Ragamuffin Man” busted Curry up (there were accidental headbutts, some later accusing Honeyghan of using his dome on purpose) and ultimately made him quit.
An unthinkable sight, Curry remained on his stool after the conclusion of the 6th-round, bleeding, feeling sorry for himself and utterly spent. Honeyghan collapsed to the canvas in sheer elation. There was a new superstar at 147 and he would go on to have quite a reign. “The Lone Star Cobra” regrouped, fought on and won another title, but he was never the same force again – Honeyghan had knocked too much out of Curry.
In terms of greatest British boxing upsets, Randy Turpin’s 1951 win over the incomparable Sugar Ray Robinson tops the list but Honeyghan’s unforgettable stoppage win over Curry has to rank at number-two.
Was it really three full decades ago!!