Ten fighters will be enshrined into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this June. This is a tribute to a guy who didn't make the cut.
Fort Worth native Curry will probably forever fall into the category of underachiever. Mostly because he never won when it counted most. He was dominated by an underdog in Lloyd Honeyghan and outhustled by a non-talent in Rene Jacquot. Late in his career, his weak chin became a constant liability. And his prime was remarkably short.
By 1989 – four years after he was being hailed as boxing's best technician – he was done as a meaningful fighter.
But it was Curry who produced some of the more aesthetically-pleasing images of the 1980s. In his prime 20 years ago, his delivery was right out of the pugilistic textbook. If you wanted to see power, you watched John Mugabi. If you wanted to see elegance, you watched Donald Curry.
He dominated the best welterweights of his day, including Marlon Starling, Nino LaRocca and Colin Jones.
But his artistry was never more evident than on Dec. 6, 1985, when Curry put fellow welterweight champion Milton McCrory on his back with one of those boxing rarities: The perfect punch.
Curry's left hook traveled only inches, but impacted with the force of a cannon. The blow was perfectly placed, somehow landing around McCrory's high right guard – and the “Iceman” went from upright to horizontal in the blink of an eye.
He got up on those spindly Kronk legs, but Curry hammered him back down with a right hand. McCrory's faraway look convinced referee Mills Lane to end it in the second round.
McCrory represented Curry's sternest test at 147 pounds, and the emphatic victory sent the Cobra's stock skyrocketing. Some were convinced he was no less than the second-best fighter on the planet.
And, suddenly, Curry vs. middleweight champ Marvin Hagler became the hottest fight in boxing.
Just as suddenly, Curry's star faded.
He was back in the ring three months after the McCrory victory, but already showed signs of demise. Even still, no one could have imagined him losing to the unknown Honeyghan in September 1986.
But the challenger from England showed no fear of the undisputed welterweight champ, attacking early, cutting him and staggering him in the second round. Curry's bad conditioning didn't allow him to rebound from the early beating, and he went out meekly in round six.
Most assumed 1986's “Upset of the Year” was an aberration.
Curry's window of opportunity for greatness slammed shut, and he was knocked out with one punch by Mike McCallum 10 months later in July, 1987. He would gamely win a second world title in July, 1988, defeating Italy's Gianfranco Rosi via 10th-round knockout. But in his next fight he fought with no passion in losing a lackluster decision to Jacquot in February 1989.
He'd get two more title shots, but neither was deserved. He had no business fighting at middleweight when Michael Nunn knocked him out in October 1990, and his June 1991 try for Terry Norris's junior middleweight title should've never happened.
So don't be surprised if Donald Curry never is elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. His big victories were minimal and his prime was short.
But the memories he left weren't bad for a guy who didn't make the cut.