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Don Curry: Where did it all go wrong?

There was a time when Don Curry was the pound-for-pound best boxer in the sport. The unbeatable-looking world welterweight king was being called “The Next Sugar Ray Leonard” and true greatness seemed assured indeed. But, in a classic case of one fight, one loss, forever ruining a fine fighter, Curry would see his world fall apart after his 1986 defeat at the hands of Lloyd Honeyghan.

Curry, then unbeaten at 25-0, was one fight removed from a truly chilling performance: his brutal and quick icing of “The Ice Man,” Milton McCrory of the legendary Kronk Gym. 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.

Enter Honeyghan. The British warrior might also have been undefeated but in the opinion of nearly everyone, he didn’t have a chance against Curry. A whopping 7-1 underdog on those betting sites that actually posted odds, Honeyghan was about to send shock-waves through the entire sport.

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. 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. What on earth had happened to Curry!

An unthinkable sight, Curry remained on his stool after the conclusion of the sixth-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.

Curry was to suffer more damaging defeat.

After picking up two comeback wins up at 154 pounds, over good fighters – interestingly both wins coming via DQ victory, both in the fifth-round – Curry ran into Mike McCallum. “The Body Snatcher” targeted the head and crushed Curry with a spectacular one-punch KO in round-five, this fight taking place 31 years ago this very day. The talk of greatness was never heard again with regards to Curry. He did beat Gianfranco Rossi to win the WBC super-welterweight title but Curry lost it in his first defence and he never reigned again.

Curry lost three of his last four fights, being stopped by Michael Nunn, Terry Norris and, in his final bout, Emmett Linton. Curry retired for good in 1997 – some 11 years after the damaging loss to Honeyghan.

Exiting with a 34-6(25) record, Curry is today largely remembered as a once special fighter who all but fell to pieces after suffering his first defeat. Curry is living proof that it can be so important to be matched well and to be well managed.

Curry never had to fight Honeyghan in the first place. How different might this fighter’s career and legacy have been had he avoided the relentless Brit?