View Full Version : Mike McCallum and the Fab 4. Was he TRULY avoided?

01-30-2006, 06:13 PM
New member here guys. I'm a "Message board orphan" looking for a new home and some of your regular posters such as TKO, Starling Stomp and others said this was a great site with plenty of knowledable posters.

The education in the sport is never ending and hopefully I can make worthy contributions here, while at the same time picking your brains so I can brighten up a sometimes dim bulb.

I look forward to some healthy, intelligent and at times sprited converstions. The site looks first rate and the knowledge floating around has me excited and a bit intimidated at the same time.

So with that said, hoepfully my first post/topic is not a recycled conversation, if it is, I apologize.

I'd like to attempt to debunk the oft repeated comment about Mike McCallum getting the short end of the stick (Ie avoided) when the Fab Four were exchanging punches and sharing in on the big bucks and glory.

I personally have long held the position that McCallum had a larger issue with “timing” than being TRULY ducked.

My timeline/breakdown of McCallum’s career as it coincided with Duran, Leonard, Hagler and Hearns:

Mike McCallum vs. the Fab Four of Leonard, Duran, Hagler and

Hagler- Lost to Leonard in 87 and retired permanently after
that. McCallum never moved up to 160 until 1988. That kind of ends this one before it truly gets off the ground, regarding Marvin “ducking” McCallum.

Leonard-Defeated Hagler in 87 and retired again. In 88 he returned to face Lalonde for the 175 and 168 pound titles. In 88 McCallum had just lost to Sumbu Kalambay. Ray faced Hearns and Duran in 1989 at the 168-pound limit. McCallum had won the Middleweight champion by this time.

In 1991, Ray returned again at 154 to challenge Terry Norris. He was soundly beaten and retired. Could Leonard have sought out McCallum at 160 rather than Norris at 154? I guess so, but there never was any clamor for such a match as Mike, who had finally won the WBA 160 title, but really hadn’t separated himself from Nunn, or Jackson. Nunn was considered the best Middle, Duran the biggest monetary draw, and Jackson it’s biggest puncher.

McCallum while possibly more talented than all of them (More talented than the 160 pound 30 something version of Duran. And I certainly would say he was more talented than Nunn or Jackson when he was in his prime at 154.), was just considered another titlist who was still struggling with Sumbu Kalambay.

Duran-Won the WBA Jr. Middleweight title from Davey Moore in 1983, then moved up to face Marvin Hagler and lost by decision in a bid for Marvin’s' 160 pound crown. In 1984, McCallum was the Mandatory challenger for Roberto's crown. Roberto opted to unify the belts against WBC titlist Thomas Hearns. The WBA said no and stripped Duran.

Is facing Hearns over then little known McCallum, who looked awfully ordinary against Sean Mannion in his bout for the vacant title, really ducking?

Roberto retired after being ko'd in 2 by Hearns and staged a few comebacks. The first comeback ended when he was decisioned by Robbie Sims, in a great fight in 1986. Duran came back against and toiled through several lesser name fighters until he fought Iran Barkley for the WBC Middleweight crown in 1989.

He won his fourth title agianst Barkely and then took on Leonard for the Super Middleweight title later that year. McCallum did indeed become a Middleweight belt holder in 1989, however he was not on Duran's radar essentially becuase a thrid bout with Sugar Ray Leonard meant quite a bit of money and an opportunity to capture the spotlight on the center stage again. And fair or not, McCallum was still in Nunn’s shadow.

Hearns-To me the only case that could be made by McCallum
in not legitimately getting a crack at one of the Fab four. Problem was, his window of opportunity only lasted six months.

In 84, Hearns blows away Duran and Hutchings to put himself back on the map for big players in the fight game. McCallum wins the Vacant WBA title at 154 and no one notices. In 85, Hearns challenges Hagler in an epic encounter which Tommy loses and McCallum defends his belt once and makes one non title fight appearance.

In 86, Hearns returns against Shuler at 160, defends his 154 belt against Medal, relinquishes the belt and moves up permanently to 160 with a win over Doug Dewitt. All of this in an effort to get Hagler back in the ring with him.

McCallum defends his belt twice, most notably against a rather green Julian Jackson. In 1987, things begin to start happening for Mccallum. Unfortunately for him, Hearns moves up to 175 and wins Dennis Andries' light heavyweight belt and then moves down to 160 to win the vacant WBC belt in a bout with Juan Roldan.

For McCallum, he is very impressive in defending his 154 pound crown against Milt McCrory and then he upsets Donald Curry by KO in 5 in July and becomes a major player. Mike doesn't fight for the rest of the year, while he attempts to negotiate a big fight at 160. He relinquishes the 154 pound title.

Hearns who won his version of the title in October is trying to secure a rematch with either Hagler or Leonard. Neither comes off.

McCallum is unable to get anyone’s attention as Leonard Hagler and Hearns all are posturing and negotiating only amongst themselves. Mike goes for the vacant WBA against middleweight title Sumbu Kalambay. Problem is he loses. And when Hearns his upset by Ko in 3 by Iran Barkley, the window is permanently shut for McCallum.

Hearns moved up to face Fully Obel for the WBC 168 pound title when Ray set out his quest for five belts against Lalonde. Obel got hurt and scratched the fight, so Hearns fought and greatly struggled against James Kinchen for the vacant and then unheard of WBO 168 pound belt.

McCallum plugged along and eventually won the vacant WBA belt form Herol Graham in 1989. Hearns would fight to a bum luck draw with Leonard for his version of the 168 pound crown. In 1990 he defended against Olajide and in 1991 won the 175 pound crown from Virgil Hill.

McCallum after defending his 160 pound title a few times against the likes of Steve Collins and a revenge win over Kalambay, got into a grudge series with James Toney.

Hearns' and McCallum's paths had permanently gone in different directions. Especially when Hearns lost his 175 title to ironically, Iran Barkley.

From October 1987 when Hearns won the Middleweight title, until Mar 1988, when McCallum lost to Sumbu Kalambay, was the only time I saw that Mike had a legit gripe about not being selected as a potential by at least one member of the fab four (I'm talking when McCallum had establsihed himself to really be in postion to call out the rest. Duran facing Hearns rather than McCallum who only had the Kalule win under his belt at the time, really doesn't qulaify.).

Most specifically, Hearns. But considering how bad Tommy wanted to get either Ray or Marvin back into the ring with him, was he REALLY avoiding McCallum or simply trying to get revenge with bigger names for bigger dollars?

McCallum imo was a victim of bad timing, not ducking by any of the aforementioned Fab Four.

Dan Gunter
01-30-2006, 09:17 PM
If this is Hawkins, late of Boxingtalk: You'll find a far more knowledgeable group of posters here than at Boxingtalk!

Best regards,


01-30-2006, 09:19 PM
It is I Dan.

I'm looking forward to posting and learning.


01-31-2006, 12:10 AM
Those guys ducked no man, including Mike.
Mike just was not a real big money name like those guys were. He was a very workmanlike performer who won most all of his fights, but didn't turn crowds on a whole lot.
McCallum wasn't always a dominating, rib breaking performer in all of his fights. I liked Mike a whole lot. He probably would have beaten Duran, but I don't know if he beats the other three. Mike and Hearns sparred many a round together, and I have heard there was little to choose between the two in the Kronk. Mike was trained in the amateurs by a friend of mine, the great amateur Clint Jackson before he went to Detroit. He had Mike a pure banger before Mr Steward turned him into more of a boxer-puncher. But look at all the trouble Mike had with McCrory, and I pick Hearns to have beaten him. I have always thought Mike had the size, reach, and power to drive Marvin up a wall. That being said, I think Hagler would have beaten him in a tough go. Ray was too slick for Mike and wins on points. Mike was a bit slow and methodical, and Leonard ate guys like that up. He would have given Hagler a better fight than he would have Ray, IMO.

01-31-2006, 03:29 AM
In that window of opportunity you speak of, and for no particular reason, I think Mike just may have been able to pull it off against Hearns. Tommy was already diminishing and Mike was at pretty much the best he was going to be. I very much like his chances in a real barnburner in that fight.

01-31-2006, 09:40 AM
T, given that Tommy did lose to Barkley during this window and McCallum obviously was superior to Iran, selecting McCallum over THIS Hearns, certainly is not a stretch by any means.

What just never sits well with me, is just how GOOD Hearns looked for 2 and 3/4ths rounds before "boom", Iran hit the lottery.

My question would be, would Tommy have been in the postion he was in agianst Barkley, agianst McCallum? CERTAINLY Hearns would never be dominating Mike the way he did Iran, so leaving himself as OPEN as he did for Iran's Monster shot, probably isn't there.

Of course the flip could be asked: DID Tommy look sooo sharp becuase it was Barkley? Then yet another question would be, would McCallum look as flat agianst Tommy as he would aginast Kalambay?

Certainly enough questions exist that make this bout truly intriguing. I'd go with Tommy at 160 (and 154 btw in thier primes) during this "window" but not with any 100% assurances.

Good matchup.

01-31-2006, 06:54 PM

hello and welcome. if i were to find this question in the fantasy fight section i would say the fab four as you placed them could all beat mike mccallum but in boxing ,of course, nothing is certain. as you point out concerning a time frame, hagler retired and stayed that way ,for which i respect him very much, so a fight with mike and marvin is probably the least likely. i would say however that of your fab four marvin is the most obvious victor over mike imo.

i believe the others, considering the risk reward factor ie mikes limited appeal on the larger stage coupled with the fact that he was a dangerous puncher, placed mike in that old boxing maxim category..."who needs him".

good topic. from i see you have no reason to feel intimidated in any boxing circle.

01-31-2006, 07:30 PM
I appreciate the kind words and the welcome.

As the new kid on the block here, to me, it is important that I pay my dues, EARN my respect, while showing respect to the vets of CBZ.

I certainly view this board as inifinitely more challenging then where I resided previously and I look forward to making this my new message board home.

Heck, if anything, intimidation is a good thing. Keeps you humble and grounded.

01-31-2006, 07:43 PM
Tommy made a habit of posing with his hand at his hip, and he also made a habit of standing in that zone where he nullified his own advantage of having such long arms.

While I think he might be more careful against Mike, as in not judging their fight by Tommy being in the situation he was in with Iran but substituting McCallum for the Blade (which I usually find a rather odd scenario in fantasy matches anyway), would it be fair to say McCallum might not need so much rope so to speak? That said, how likely would it be McCallum is actually hunting Hearns?

Their bout always to me hinged on McCallum's relative lack of speed and the fact Mike was not exactly a defensive whiz.

I think Hearns puts a good deal of leather on Mike and beats him. 154, 160..whatever.

01-31-2006, 08:10 PM
McCallum made a big mistake by staying at jr middle.

Had he moved up to 160 and kept winning, it would have been much easier to force a fight with them...especially Hagler.

Losing to Kalambay when he did was terrible for him as he really needed to be the man at 160 to have any chance at a fight with the big 4.

01-31-2006, 08:27 PM
When do you think he should have moved up? Possibly after the McCory bout? Probably that would have been best.

SEEMINGLY, the Curry win was a perfect time for him to jump up in weight, although even if he hadn't wasted 6 or 7 months posturing, he still would have missed out on Hagler who lost to Ray earlier that year.

I also won't hold it agiasnt him when the first proposed Curry fell through. Getting a win over a marquee name like Curry was the perfect launching pad for him to 160. And with Curry being pulled in about 4 different directions and then ultiumately scrapping the move to 154 and then coming in emaciated agianst Honeyghan and getting Beaten by Lloyd, it did stall McCallum a bit.

Personally, I would have taken a Curry with his head screwed on right, over Mccallum following the McCrory win by Donald. McCallum was a bit of a head case himself and I'm not sure if he WAS ready to move up before a marquee win at 154. And then to lose all that time after the biggest win of his career by holding out for a big bout and THEN to lay an egg against Sumbu.....Sheesh, I don't know if i'd ever truly be comfortable taking him agianst Hearns.

01-31-2006, 08:28 PM
I think he should have moved up after beating Braxton\Jackson.To me, those were his best performances at 154.Plus he would still be at his peak from an physical point of view.

He probably doesn't get a fight with Marvin anyway, but would be better placed to move on the vacant titles and secure a fight with Tommy.

He could also have moved up sometime in 1984 instead of fighting Mannion.Take some fights with contenders like Lindell Holmes, Dwight Davison, Don Lee, Sibbo etc. and work his way into a position for a title shot around 85\86.This would have been the best course of action if he wanted a shot at Marvin.

However, Mike may have had a great deal of trouble getting meaningful fights quickly if he only takes an unbeaten record with very little meaningful bouts up with him.Maybe he ends up on the periphery like Herol Graham did when he took that route at the same time.

I tend to think with Marvin becoming less and less active, the timing was never really right for a bout between the two.Securing enough big fights against other contenders in a short window of time seems unlikely to happen for Mike.

02-01-2006, 12:10 AM
I'm sorry but Mccallum is starting to become overrated as time goes by.I saw his bout with Braxton and it wasn't all that.Braxton didn't do anything.I saw his bout with Mannion and all Mccallum had to do was step on the gas and finish off the outclassed Mannion but he played it safe.
I saw a jaded Curry make Mccallum look ordinary for almost 5 rounds.Mccallum won with a great hook but this wasn't a prime Curry.
And Leonard and company ducked Mccallum?
If Kalambay handily outboxed Mccallum what do you think Hearns and such would do?
Curry was quick but Mccallum made Curry look like a speed demon.Imagine Leonard in place of Curry that night against Mccallum.Mccallum would have been soundly beaten.

02-01-2006, 05:14 PM
I don't think Mike was avoided because any of the above mentioned fighters were afraid of him.

McCallum presented high risk for low reward, very much like Winky Wright does today.

McCallum was an excellent fighter, IBHoF worthy - but he didn't bring a fan base or money to the table back in the prosperous 80's.

Hagler, Leonard, Duran, Hearns and Benitez all got rich fighting each other. The last thing they needed was a non-household name screwing up their careers and bank accounts.

Emanuel Steward avoided the Hearns vs. McCallum match-up not because he feared that Hearns would lose, but rather it was too much risk for too little a reward. It's simple economics and it's the same reason why 20 years later the Jermain Taylor vs. Winky Wright fight is not being made.


02-01-2006, 06:41 PM
tom...we pretty much see it the same. very similar post.

02-03-2006, 02:53 AM
And don't forget that Mccallum himself wanted too much money.You can't demand things when you aren't the drawing power.

02-03-2006, 01:00 PM
(And lo from the darkness a wise old shepherd did appear..
and the young lambs gambolled in the security of his knowledge...)

" the knowledge floating around has me excited and a bit intimidated at the same time."

You Hawk...Intimidated...even only a bit ???

they are a very knowledgable Bunch here a CBZ and
Your (Fact Based) Knowledge and opinions, and detailed responses, are such that you should fit right on in, with mutual benefit,

Regards Sage

02-03-2006, 02:15 PM
I'll take that as a compliment! And too bad for you if it wasn't meant to be! I'm running with it!


Thanks Sage.

Truth be told, speaking not only for me, but for Sharks as well, this was probably what we needed. We were ready for a push. What we got wasn't EXACTLY that, but all things work out in the end.

The maturity level, the knowledge and professional atmosphere here....really is what I have been seeking and truly will now be enjoying.

It's good to be aboard!

02-03-2006, 11:28 PM
Please do not try to include me in your shepherd games. I don't even know you.

Take the spotlight, Gandalf/Krishna/Obi Wan reference and adulation like a man.

02-03-2006, 11:36 PM
LOL! That was pretty funny, Sharkey. Anyways I want to welcome both you & Hawkins to the board. You both seem to know you're stuff & we're all about serious boxing talk here not infantile flame wars.

I think you'll both be welcome additions to our little lash up in cyber space ...



02-03-2006, 11:45 PM
Thanks GorDoom. Thank you very much for the welcome.

I have heard nothing but good stuff about you and this site, and am happy to be welcome here.

The reference seemed to fit Hawk5ins who indeed is bearded, magical and very liberal...like most shepherd jedi wizards I guess.

At any rate, I am pleased to be here and look forward to being very wrong very often but all in good fun.

Roberto Aqui
02-04-2006, 12:39 AM
[[[[I'd like to attempt to debunk the oft repeated comment about Mike McCallum getting the short end of the stick (Ie avoided) when the Fab Four were exchanging punches and sharing in on the big bucks and glory. ]]]]]]

Already debunked it. Those were all old guys fighting each other for money. Plenty of other belts available. Only Hearns had a credible reason for meeting up with Mike, but not for long. Hagler retired permanantly and Ray was just coming back for big money fights and scalps(titles). Duran was so ancient and over his natural weight that he can be excused.

02-04-2006, 01:55 AM
"dem sheeps daegobah"

Thanks Sharkman. You made me spit Diet Pepsi on my computer.

02-04-2006, 12:59 PM
I also appreciate the welcome. I've actually been kicking myself for the past week wondering what took me so flipping long to join up. TKO only made the suggestion to me about two years ago. Possibly earlier!

(See Sage? I am dim.)

You have an excellent site that is a TYPHOON of fresh air.

Thank you.

And Sharks, What have you been told about that wit? As far as the beard...I had one once. Came in all uneven, with Bald spots. No wizardry there I'm affraid. I do have a pair of Flip Flops though. They're kinda like Warlock sandels. I guess. if only they were'nt powder blue.

02-04-2006, 02:43 PM
Did I spell that system/planet/nerd-action playset correctly?

Hawk reminds me more personally of Bob Ryan than Gandalf/Obi Wan. Sorry to hear about your Cliff Claven beard.

02-04-2006, 02:44 PM
Actually, it's Dagobah.

And Hawk to me is a cross between Good Will Hunting and Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon. You get the Obi-Wan status, with a hint of Doctor Gonzo.

02-05-2006, 01:29 AM
C'mon man. You know the term "Nerd" is a ground I refuse to cover again.

And T, Pesci? Man. I'm gonna be labled the "tuna fish sandwich at the Drive through" guy.

Thanks alot.

02-05-2006, 01:47 AM
Pesci only because you get riled so easy. And if it's true that they **** you at the drive-through, why does McDonald's always leave me so unsatisfied?

02-05-2006, 02:03 AM
Ba da ba ba ba.

I'm lovin' it.

02-05-2006, 03:30 AM
Nobody ducked McCallum there just wasn't a big enough payday to outweigh the risk. People tend to forget that this is PRO boxing. & what that means is fighting for as much $$$ as you can get for the least amount of risk.

It made no sense for the "Fab Four" to fight Mike economically when they could make millions fighting each other.

That's it. No conspiracies. Just pure greed. & in the 80's as Gordon Gekko said so famously in the movie, Wall Street:

"Greed is good".


02-05-2006, 04:20 AM
In the 80's? Hell. Greed is still good.

02-05-2006, 05:05 AM

I meant he said it in the 80's during the "Fab Four's" heyday I was using it you know, like, as a metaphor man. (g)

& while greed is a helluva motivator, most of the time it turns out to not being a good thing ...


02-05-2006, 05:46 AM
Um...yeah...and I was being ironical :rollin