Normally a slow starter, McCallum planned to jump on Curry right from the opening bell. "I have studied him," McCallum said. "He has a great right hand and a good hook. Let's see if he can handle the pressure and my body shots."
In the second round Curry buckled McCallum's knees with a right to the head. McCallum slumped and then steadied himself. "It was a great hook," the champion said. "It was the closest I've ever come to being knocked down."
Curry stepped up the pace in the third round and was in command until the end of the fourth when McCallum caught him with a solid right to the head. The momentum shifted. During the minute's rest after the round, McCallum told his corner that Curry was starting to cover up to protect his body.
Thirty seconds into the fifth round McCallum threw a right hand to the body, and, as Curry covered, he fired a harmless hook to the head. McCallum was testing Curry, and inwardly he smiled. Soon, he thought.
A few moments later McCallum hooked twice and then showed Curry a slow right uppercut to the body. "I just wanted him to see the right hand," McCallum said later. With his eyes locked on the decoy, Curry leaned back and lowered his hands. "I just got careless and relaxed," Curry said.
He picked a poor moment to take a breather. Stepping to his left, McCallum turned hard, cracking the hook against Curry's jaw. The challenger never saw the punch. He fell backward, bounced once and then lay stiff, his hands over his head. Curry's eyes were open but unfocused. He heard nothing as referee Richard Steele counted him out.
Afterward, McCallum wore a wide smile across his unmarked face. "Do you think everybody knows who Mike McCallum is now?" the champion said.
Listening was Thomas Hearns, who will fight Juan Roldan on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas for the vacant WBC middleweight title. Hearns smiled when he heard someone ask McCallum, who earned $475,000 for Saturday's bout, if he would like to fight him. "Certainly," said McCallum. " Hearns. Hagler. Any of those guys. Now that people know me, I want to be a fighting champion. I'd love to fight Hearns."
"For a lot of money," said Hearns.
"That's right," McCallum said happily, envisioning a million-dollar payday. "For a lot of money."