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Donald Curry: The Art of Making Boxing Look Effortless

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TRUSSMAN66
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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 13 Dec - 23:16

I know Truss has traditionally been the greatest Donald Curry aficionado around here, but I thought I'd give it a go this time.

Some of you might have heard the depressing update recently given by Curry's son about Donald's plight in recent times. He's back in prison and is sadly suffering with advanced-stage CTE. I'd seen interviews with the Lone Star Cobra in recent years and it was clear to anyone that his speech, movement and clarity of mind were notably compromised. Unfortunately it appears this downturn has accelerated rapidly since he was last seen in public, and Curry's son is currently doing his best to raise awareness of the condition and is imploring many fighters, trainers, promoters and writers to join him in trying to cajole the sanctioning bodies into creating some kind of infrastructure which can help identify the early signs of CTE and provide some level of support for retired fighters who suffer with it.

We wish him all the best with that, of course, but on that note it might be nice to remind ourselves of better times with Curry. He did, after all, look destined to go down as one of the greatest Welterweights in history for a while in the mid 1980s, and as the Sugar Ray Leonard era came to an end many felt we were headed into the era of Donald Curry - it shouldn't be forgotten just how special he looked for a while, and of course during his pomp he jostled along with Marvin Hagler in the race to be viewed as boxing's pound for pound number one.

"I've never seen a fighter quite so cool when defending a world title" said commentator Jim Watt after watching Curry dismantle the big-punching Welshman Colin Jones in Birmingham in January 1985, to which his colleague Reg Gutteridge added, "I think we're destined to see him go down as one of the great fighters".

Watching him at his very best, Curry tends to remind me of the great Jose Napoles, one of the outstanding Welterweights in the division's history. Like Napoles did against the likes of Curtis Cokes and Ralph Charles, Curry had that ability to apply pressure and fight on the front foot, showing superb focus and the ability to evade, counter and switch combinations between head and body with amazing fluidity. A proper boxer with a raw fighter's nasty streak. His balance and economy of movement were tremendous - he wasted very little, be it in terms of punches or energy, and could move his opponent's around the ring without having to maul, clinch or push.

After such a long unpaid career, some felt that it took him a while to properly shed some of his amateur habits (albeit he was still only 21 when he lifted his first world title) - in his first fight against Marlon Starling, and even in his first WBA title contest against Jun-Suk Hwang, there was a feeling that he was still a bit of a runner and that he needed to develop a more steely edge in his approach. Those critics were quickly confounded, though, and by the time of the Starling rematch, the Jones victory and his sensational early knockout of Milton McCrory to become the undisputed Welterweight king, Curry really did look like the complete fighter. Those three performances were true boxing masterclasses in which he showed a remarkable range of skills, right across the spectrum.

He fell from grace as we know, starting with that shock loss to Honeyghan in 1986, but despite the timing not quite being right for mega fights against the likes of Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns or Roberto Duran, it's certainly not a stretch to say that Curry had already done enough to be considered a great Welter in his own right by that stage. Maybe not as great as people thought he'd be, and not troubling the Sugar Rays near the top of the 147 lb tree anytime soon. But watch him at his finest in the fights mentioned above and try telling me he wouldn't have been a superb Welterweight in any era.

Wonderful talent and a fighter you could watch all day. A guy who truly made this most attritional and demanding of sports look almost absurdly easy when he was in full flow.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Tue 14 Dec - 22:00

His best 147 opponent Starling tended to lose when he was a big favorite...Bumphus debacle....Blocker...Molinares etc..

When he was a big underdog he got motivated...Great wins against Brown..Honeyghan..Breland..Ayers and nearly Nunn at 160 when he was a huge underdog..

He was an underdog against Curry twice and lost twice...Quite revealing..

Starling had huge admiration for Curry as stated before he didn't buy the Honey win...Starling thought the manner of the McCrory win was bad for Curry he thought it made him believe he could just walk in and knock anyone out...Think he had a point...

Finch...Stafford..Larocca..Starling twice and Jones with four years champion and two as undisputed...certainly for me puts him over..

Loved his gunfighter style and for me a fight he lost against McCallum showed all the beauty of his Boxing for four rounds...

In and out..superb counterpunching.

Saw him interviewed on youtube a couple of years ago and he didn't look good..

I Know like his brother he has been inside...Saw his sister killed too or the aftermath if memory serves right..

Not a lucky family...He should have won Gold but the boycott hurt him.

My favorite fighter.

Just always managed to mess up at the worst time...Should have moved up to 154 earlier... Got careless against McCallum..

Shame his talent deserved greater success.

Nice article.

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Post by 88Chris05 Wed 15 Dec - 9:06

Good stuff, Truss.

Yeah it's interesting that Curry himself noted after sparking McCrory that his past few fights had seen him fighting more and more aggressively, and in his post-fight interview with HBO he half-jokingly mentioned that he "would like to go back to boxing".

Might well have stemmed from the Jones fight, because having seen Curry spend a lot of the Hwang fight on the back foot many pundits thought it would be a contest between Curry's pure boxing / movement and Jones' power. Instead Curry looked like the stronger, more powerful guy in there and admitted himself that he was surprised how easily he was able to move Jones around once the fight began.

He did box excellently against McCallum in the opening rounds, but even then there were a couple of occasions where he jumped out of exchanges with his hands way too low and perhaps given that it's no surprise that McCallum found the leveller. Had Curry gone to 154 a couple of fights earlier as he'd said he would, it would have been interesting to see how he'd have approached that one. Would he have had the confidence to try and pressure Mike like he'd done to Jones or Starling in the rematch, and not give him the chances to wind up those big hooks? Or would he always have boxed a slightly more tentative game plan given McCallum's strength and inside game?

Anyway, watching Curry in full flow really puts today's Welters into context because for the most part they look like amateurs next to him. That's more a compliment to Curry than an insult to them, mind you, because today's Welter division is one of the better ones in boxing.
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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 15 Dec - 9:38

88Chris05 wrote:
Anyway, watching Curry in full flow really puts today's Welters into context because for the most part they look like amateurs next to him. That's more a compliment to Curry than an insult to them, mind you, because today's Welter division is one of the better ones in boxing.

On this particular point i'd say that boxers from the past were what i'd call well schooled and that definitely applies to Curry. The amateurs back then were a huge benefit to the Americans, 400 bouts is a lot of learning and it's no surprise that these guys were fast tracked into world title contention, they just knew more than the current crop. You watch Curry or Leonard and everything flows which means they fight on the front foot and the back foot, use both hands, mix it up between the body and head whilst still maintaining a strong defence. Crawford is the closest thing today but even then he gets hit too much for my liking and still takes a few rounds to get going.

The transition from offence and defence is the most noticeable downside of Crawford and co.

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Post by 88Chris05 Wed 15 Dec - 11:08

Yeah agree with much of that, Soul. One real thing which annoys me with the current crop is the inability / refusal to fight on the inside, compounded by modern referees being too eager to jump in as soon as there's a clinch.

Whatever happened to referees telling the fighters that if they've got a hand free, don't expect him to split them? Or telling them to work and punch their way out rather than just accept the clinch and look over to him to intervene? It really is becoming a bit of a lost art, especially when it comes to trainers who obsess over unnecessary movement and flashy 'skills'. Some of the guys coming through may look poised and athletic but their punching technique is really sloppy. Haney is an example of that - good fighter but his shots look like slaps at times.

There are some pleasant exceptions, mind you. What made the Prograis-Taylor fight so great a couple of years back is that they both really went to work on the inside, knew how to shorten the punches, work the high-low etc. Props to the referee for letting them get on with it and allowing the fight to flow as well. Much like the Starling-Curry rematch; a fight can be technically excellent but still be a proper scrap as well.
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Post by Herman Jaeger Thu 16 Dec - 13:05

If you’re a pressure fighter there’s no point (literally no point) in going to America if you have to fight a defensive fighter. The referee won’t let you work in close and rip to the body and take his legs away. Breaks the action as soon as you work your way in

Hatton/Mayweather, Fury/Wilder two, Ward/Kovalev, and most recently Williams/Andrade examples of blatant corrupt American referees

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Post by Soul Requiem Thu 16 Dec - 13:28

Herman Jaeger wrote:If you’re a pressure fighter there’s no point (literally no point) in going to America if you have to fight a defensive fighter. The referee won’t let you work in close and rip to the body and take his legs away. Breaks the action as soon as you work your way in

Hatton/Mayweather, Fury/Wilder two, Ward/Kovalev, and most recently Williams/Andrade examples of blatant corrupt American referees

This a fallacy that has grown legs; Cortez let them fight up close, what he didn't allow is Hatton to wrestle and it ignores he was getting beaten up on the inside anyway. There's a fine line between grappling and fighting inside, if you watch a few Chavez fights you'll notice he's always up close but very very rarely does he hold, head on chest, bang to the body. The old adage goes 'kill the body and the head dies'.

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Post by Herman Jaeger Thu 16 Dec - 16:42

Whatever you say, mate

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Post by Derek Smalls Sun 9 Jan - 18:37

As a small aside~who do you fellas rate more,Starling or Breland?
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Post by Herman Jaeger Sun 9 Jan - 20:39

‘Cortez let them fight up close’

Just the sort of idiotic comment you’d expect from this idiot


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Post by Soul Requiem Sun 9 Jan - 20:40

Herman Jaeger wrote:‘Cortez let them fight up close’

Just the sort of idiotic comment you’d expect from this idiot


Bless you Herman, you'll manage to watch a fight one day.

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Post by Herman Jaeger Sun 9 Jan - 20:46

Absolutely laughable comment

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Post by Soul Requiem Sun 9 Jan - 20:49

You get triggered far too easily Herman. Bless you.

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Post by Herman Jaeger Sun 9 Jan - 20:59

Clueless poster

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Post by Derek Smalls Mon 10 Jan - 0:14

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=asM056FLmg0
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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 10 Jan - 2:08

Derek Smalls wrote:As a small aside~who do you fellas rate more,Starling or Breland?

Although Breland has more alphabet title defences under his belt, in terms of overall achievements and doing it at the highest level (better wins, lineal champ as opposed to alphabet one) you've got to go with Starling. He out-toughed and old manned Breland in their first fight and deserved the verdict in their rematch, in my opinion - but that 1-0-1 scoreline in Starling's favour does come with just a little bit of a caveat.

Starling himself admitted that Breland beat the crap out of him for most of that first fight before he finally just wore him down, and even though I think Starling deserved the win second time out he had some help from Breland, who I think was clearly affected by that first contest and who didn't fight with any real belief until he'd already given away most of the early rounds. He came on a little stronger near the end and closed the gap enough to get a draw - if he'd have committed earlier, actually let his hands go a bit more and stepped into his shots he could have won that rematch (but again, based on hard, damaging punches and the fact that Breland was so slow to get going, Starling should have got the win there for me).

So despite failing to do it in two attempts, I'm a long way from thinking that Breland could never have beaten Starling.

People say that Starling is largely underrated now, and that might well be true, but he was curiously very underrated even during his own time. He was regularly picked as a kind of gatekeeping opponent for emerging guys to try and make a name off, as if their handlers had no knowledge of how good he was. He was figured to be a safe defence for Breland, and we all know how that turned out, but even after giving Curry a decent argument he was lined up for guys like Ayers and Simon Brown, both of whose 0s he took. He won a lot of fights against younger, hyped opponents that he wasn't supposed to win and his demolition of Honeyghan was as comprehensive as it gets.

Breland was obviously a victim of the insane hype which surrounded him when he turned professional. His amateur achievements were staggering and he had the reputation to match. Manny Steward said he'd never seen anything like it and that even as an amateur he was giving Hearns (by now a two-weight champion) all he could handle in sparring, while Ray Arcel, by now in his mid-eighties, was waxing lyrical about how Breland was going to go down as one of the greats around the time he turned professional. Breland never asked for the hype, but when respected voices in the game are predicting you'll go on to become another Sugar Ray Robinson you're almost doomed to fail or at least fall short of expectations.

Just never really looked consistently cut out for the professional game at the highest level. Not physically imposing enough and always leaving his chin wide open and high in the air. Like Howard Davis years before him. Flashes of brilliance but just lacking that extra ingredient to excel as a pro the way they did as amateurs. But hey, he did bag a couple of world titles and by all accounts kept his money and has lived pretty comfortably since swapping fighting for training, so no need to feel too sorry for him.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Mon 10 Jan - 20:42

Ayers and Brown were undefeated and the future of the division.

Will say though that Mark was considered to be wonderfully skilled but too nice a guy..

He hated Starling though and watch the 2nd round of Starling v Breland 2..

Marlon ?? Well he was like Lewis...A challenge and he was brilliant...An easy defence he phoned it in.

Both Quality..

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Post by Derek Smalls Wed 12 Jan - 22:30

Honeyghan had the most crude tactics I have ever witnessed.Not only did he think that he could bomb Starling out -on  slim evidence- he let the media know that he would simply overwhelm Starling!
For me it's slightly hard to square the Curry version of Honey with the subsequent fighter.Probably a discipline issue. He went from a masterly deconstruction of Curry to a one-punch-kayo wannabe.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Wed 12 Jan - 22:35

Curry was half a fighter when he lost to Honeyghan...Couldn't make weight easily and looked awful..

Why Honey hated Starling..He was there and said any featherweight could have beaten him that night..

So did Breland.

Honey was going to teach them both a lesson.

Bless him.

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Post by milkyboy Sun 6 Feb - 13:14

Ha. drop by for the first time in a few years. Good to see Truss still loading up on honeyghan.

Loved Curry at welter... the left hook to McCrory may be my single favourite punch ever. Though i wish Mills lane had stopped the fight then, as the straight right that ended it was sickening.

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Sun 6 Feb - 14:29

Pleasant surprise our old friend Milky...A few of us pop up from time to time to try to keep the old place going..

Hope you and the family are doing well..

I might write garbage but at least it's consistent.. Wink


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