May 16, 2001 – Legendary referee Richard Steele relives the classic Mike McCallum vs Don Curry WBA junior middleweight title bout from July 1987, in conversation with Clive Bernath.
By Clive Bernath: Richard Steele is one of the most respected referees in the history of professional boxing. In the 26 years Steele has been the man in the middle, he has seen and experienced just about everything.
One of the fights Steele remembers very well is the explosive encounter in July 1987 between Mike McCallum and Donald Curry for the Jamaican’s WBA junior middleweight crown. McCallum, known as “The Body Snatcher”, emerged victorious with a sickening five round knockout.
Steele, reflecting on that classic bout, admits to being quite a fan of Curry, who was known as the ‘The Lone Star Cobra’. “Don Curry! Oh man, he was a great technician. Donald Curry could box, he could do it all and he was faster than McCallum,” said Steele. “And that’s why he was getting away with a lot of stuff in that fight.”
Both men were still considered to be in their primes when the fight was staged. Curry had lost his unbeaten record to Briton Lloyd Honeyghan the previous year, but the result was still considered something of a fluke - by Americans at least.
Curry made all the early running and kept McCallum at bay with his excellent handspeed. But then, right out of the blue, McCallum unleashed one of the best left hooks imgainable to flatten the Texas born boxer to everyone’s surprise - including Steele.
“All of a sudden, McCallum just kept pressing, kept working, kept saying, ‘I’m gonna getcha’. And, in the fifth round, he did. He landed that left hook. I could not believe it.
“It was one of the most vicious punches that I’d ever seen at that particular stage my career and he flattened him. He flattened that kid. I could have counted to 20 and it wouldn’t have made any difference.”
The punch that knocked out Curry, as Steele says, was devastating, but not one he could see coming. “That punch came right out of the blue,” added Steele. “Definitely out of the blue. That left hook had so much power on it. Curry was fighting a good fight, but just got caught.”