Tommy Morrison Dead At 44
One of several 'Great White Hopes' during the 90's, Tommy ' The Duke' Morrison died on this past weekend.
His family did not disclose the cause of death, but it was likely connected to the HIV virus he had been carrying for well over a decade.
I remember being quite excited when Morrison came on to the boxing scene, for a while it looked like he may be a legitimate contender for the Heavyweight crown.
Although he did claim the WBO title in his fight with Foreman, Morrison never really lived up to his billing and his losses were usually attributable to either his questionable chin or a lack of conditioning that seemed to catch up with him in the later rounds.
The two memories that really stand out for me when it comes to Morrison's career were
1/ The night he got destroyed by Ray Mercer after leading on the cards and practically dominating the first few rounds. The ref really screwed up on that one. Mercer landed at least seven or eight punches too many and it could have been disastrous for the sport of boxing. Morrison was lucky he wasn't killed in the ring that night. Check out the KO on youtube sometime if you haven't seen it. It was absolutely brutal. I still have that month's copy of The Ring magazine with the cover photo of poor Tommy's distorted face absorbing Mercer's left hook while he was slumped against the ropes. What a night..we had a PPV party and I remember the cable company showed Rocky V ( a movie that Morrison had a role in) as part of the package.
2/ His defeat of George Foreman. I think that is as close as anyone besides Ali ever came to sending Big George to the canvas - and it still wasn't that close, really. He did manage to rock Foreman a couple of times though. Even though he got the decision, it wasn't exactly a shining victory, and Morrison was booed in the later rounds for consistently retreating from an oncoming Foreman, even turning his back and actually walking eight or ten steps across the ring to avoid trading blows with George a couple of times. Not exactly a classic boxing match..but he is still one of the few people to deal George Foreman a loss in the ring.
The short and long of it - wasted potential I suppose. He partied hard and it showed in his cardio.
He also got knocked down far too many times - often even in fights he ended up winning.
He fought during a time when the HW division was much more competitive and interesting than it is now, that's for sure.
A bit of a troubled soul...