Lloyd Honeyghan vs. Marlon Starling
Following Shane Mosley's welterweight win over Luis Collazo this past weekend, it brought to my mind another welterweight battle that took place this month in 1989. The 147 pound division at that time was one of the strongest of all weight classes. Lloyd Honeyghan of Bermondsey, London was perceived as the strongest of the title holders.
Born in 1960, Honeyghan had won the British, European and Commonwealth Welterweight championships in his first five years as a professional. Notable scalps such as Harold Brazier, Gianfranco Rosi, Sylvester Mittee and Horace Shufford were taken.
Although undefeated, Honeyghan was a massive underdog when in September 1986 he travelled to Atlantic City to face world number one, Donald Curry. No one gave the Bermondsey man a chance, but in six amazing rounds, Honeyghan pummelled "The Cobra", ripping away from Curry the Undisputed World Welterweight Championship in the process.
Honeyghan relinquished the WBA title almost immediately, as he did not wish to face South African Harold Volbrecht. Honeyghan would make three defences of his other belts against Johnny Bumphus, Maurice Blocker and Gene Hatcher before losing on a controversial injury verdict to Jorge Vaca in October 1987.
But five months later Honeyghan would regain his belt in three torrid rounds and once again, the Londoner was a World Champion, the first ever Brit to regain a world title.
Around the same time, two other American welterweights were on the scene and before they could get to Honeyghan, they were having their own rivalry.
Marlon Starling and 1984 Olympian Mark Breland battled over the WBA belt that Honeyghan had vacated. After winning the vacant title in February 1987 against the aforementioned Volbrecht, Breland defended against Starling.
After 11 rounds, Breland was an ex champion and when they drew a 12 round verdict eight months later in April 1988, plans were made for a unification bout with the Briton.
In July 1988 both men defended their belts on a doubleheader. Honeyghan successfully negotiated his defence, albeit unconvincingly, against rugged Yung Kil Chung. Starling, however, would amazingly lose his title when decked with a blow after the bell ending round six to the limited Tomas Molinares. Starling's WBA belt was gone, even though the bout was later called a no contest.
Nonetheless, the big fight would still take place. On February 4 1989, at the Caesars Palace Sports Pavillion in Las Vegas, Honeyghan's WBC title was on the line.
Lloyd was a massive favourite to win the fight. After all, Honeyghan had defeated the great Donald Curry, something Starling was unable to do in two attempts. Also, Starling had been knocked spark out in his last fight and the Bermondsey man was perceived as being close to his peak.
The form book went out of the window that night when Starling produced probably the most complete performance of his 10 year career. Staggering the champion in the opening minutes of the bout, Starling picked the Honeyghan apart in nine one sided rounds and eventually winning the bout at 1 minute 19 seconds.
As is usually the case in big fights, the bad feeling that had existed between the two men was gone. Starling's superiority that February night was unquestionable.
Ironically, that was the last great night for both men.
Starling would fight only three more times after this Vegas bout. In April 1990, he aquitted himself admirably against middleweight number one Michael Nunn, losing a 12 round majority decision. His last fight was in August 1990, losing a 12 round verdict against Maurice Blocker.
For Honeyghan, he carried on a further six years. An embarrassing WBA title bid followed in March 1990 against Mark Breland where he was dropped numerous times en route to a third stoppage.
Honeyghan did however, before the close of his career win the Commonwealth 154 pound title with a fifth round stoppage of big punching Mickey Hughes in January 1993. After a defeat to Vinnie Pazienza five months later in Atlantic City, Honeyghan would fight twice more eventually retiring for good in February 1995.