Bob Arum Reveals The Biggest Underachiever He Promoted

By James Slater - 04/11/2024 - Comments

Arum: “I Thought Skill-Wise He Was The Equal Of Leonard And Hearns”

Whenever you think of a fighter who looked set for true greatness but fell short, who pops into your mind? Whenever you think of a fighter who was never, ever the same again after tasting defeat for the first time, who do you come up with? Chances are, it’s the man Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum thinks of when it comes to the biggest underachiever he ever promoted: Don Curry.

Curry, dubbed in the early 1980s, ‘the next Sugar Ray Leonard,’ was a very special talent, with “The Lone Star Cobra” winning the unified welterweight title, with Curry being hugely impressive in winning fights with Milton McCrory, Marlon Starling (twice), and Colin Jones. But then, after suffering a punishing upset loss to Lloyd Honeyghan, Curry was never the same force, his seemingly straightforward path to all-time greatness gone.

Curry fought on, and he even won a version of the light middleweight title, but he suffered a nasty KO at the hands of Mike McCallum a year after being humbled by Honeyghan. In the end, Curry would walk away with a good, but far from great, 34-6(25) record. Today, sadly, Curry reportedly suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his family making the announcement in 2021.

Curry seemingly had it all during the years 1983 to 1986, as Arum recalled when speaking with Talk Sport.

“The fighter that comes to mind quickly is a welterweight that I promoted who was extraordinarily talented and I thought would be a huge star but fell short, named Donald Curry,” Arum said in response to the question of who was the biggest underachiever he ever worked with. “I co-promoted with Frank Warren in the UK. He was a tremendous talent, but he never reached his full potential. I thought that skill-wise he was the equal of Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns when they were welterweights, he was enormously talented.

“But he ended up with managerial problems and business problems. And he got sidetracked and when he came back after sitting out for a while, an English fighter named Lloyd Honeyghan beat him. That was the beginning of the end for Donald Curry.”

The win Honeyghan scored over Curry in September of 1986 still ranks as one of the biggest ‘away wins’ ever scored by a British fighter, and hardly anyone could believe it at the time. Curry, who really did look like the man to take over after Leonard, Hagler and Hearns either retired or faded, was an 8/1 favourite over Honeyghan.

Curry turned out to have a short and sweet prime, but for a while there he did look like he had it all. The destruction job Curry did on Kronk fighter McCrory had many people the world over convinced he was all but unbeatable. But as Arum remembers, it all went wrong for Don Curry. Sadly, things got even worse for him after he retired from the ring.