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Boxing – 1987 – Larry Merchant Profiles The Problems Of Donald Curry Going Into McCallum Title Fight

After losing to his welterweight crown to Lloyd Honeyghan….Donald Curry moved up to the light middleweight division.

Curry then defeated Tony Montgomery to win the USBA light middleweight title on February 7, 1987….as Montgomery was disqualified in the 5th round for intentional headbutts….and that is when Curry’s next opponent, former IBF light middleweight champion Carlos Santos….was also disqualified in the 5th round for intentional headbutts.

On April 6, 1987, the day Sugar Ray Leonard defeated Marvelous Marvin Hagler for the world middleweight championship and two days after defeating Santos….Curry filed a million dollar lawsuit against Leonard and his attorney, Mike Trainer. The suit stated that Leonard and Trainer took “undue and unconscionable advantage of Curry” through fraud, conspiracy and breach of financial responsibilities….and they “conspired to prevent Curry from entering the middleweight divisions to assure Leonard’s unobstructed opportunity to fight the middleweight champion.”

Curry said he asked Leonard and Trainer for advice concerning his future….and they advised him to stay at welterweight….and not to move up in weight to fight WBA light middleweight champion Mike McCallum or middleweight champion Marvin Hagler. Curry was going to face McCallum on June 23, 1986….but he decided to back out and stay at welterweight. Several weeks later, Leonard announced that he was coming out of retirement to fight Hagler.

Curry went ahead and fought Mike McCallum on July 18, 1987 for the WBA light middleweight championship. The fight was televised live on HBO….as seen in this pre-fight video herewith….as Curry tried to have Sugar Ray Leonard….who worked for HBO as a commentator….removed from the broadcast team….but HBO decided to include Leonard as part of the telecast.

McCallum, 31-0 with 28 knockouts, was boxing’s longest reigning champion. Curry, a 2-1 betting favorite, boxed well and was leading on all three scorecards after four rounds. In the fifth, McCallum caught Curry on the chin with a left hook, putting down for the count. “I don’t know what he hit me with,” Curry said forty minutes after the fight. “I don’t know what happened.” 

HBO commentator Barry Tompkins told his broadcasting partner Sugar Ray Leonard, “You settled a case out of court here.”

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