Bad to the Bone: Morrison vs. Hipp (1992)

boxing16.04.08 - By Ted Sares: A prime Tommy “The Duke” Morrison was a powerful hitter who possessed a great left hook; however, he was “chinny” and that factor made him an exciting fighter though it cost him against stiff punchers. Joe “The Boss” Hipp, a fringe contender and a member of the Blackfoot Tribe was a rough, tough heavyweight out of Yakima, Washington and the type of guy you didn’t want to meet in an unfriendly bar.

While Tommy had the punch but a suspect chin, Joe was gritty with solid whiskers at that point in his career..

On a three fight winning streak and 24-2 coming in, Hipp met “The Duke” in Reno, Nevada on a hot sunny afternoon on June 27, 1992. After suffering a devastating KO loss to Ray Mercer in 1991, Tommy, 32-1, was on a 4-fight winning streak of his own. Both had fought Harry Terrell and both had iced him early. Still, Morrison was the clear favorite in what promised to be a barroom brawl for as long as it lasted. As it turned out, the fight was all of that and more.

The Fight

In what was one of the most brutal wars of the 90’s, “The Boss” gave “The Duke” all he could handle for nine rounds. Joe was a southpaw on top of being a durable fighter, and south paws gave Tommy trouble. Morrison suffered a broken jaw thanks to a savage Hipp right in the second stanza. As a result, he began breathing through his mouth and was soon sucking air like a fish out of water. He also broke one hand and fractured the other one by the halfway point. To compliment these dangerous injuries, he sustained a severe cut over his right eye (it would later require 20 stitches). The barroom brawl was going on in earnest.

Morrison put Hipp down in the fifth with a vicious right uppercut, straight right combination, but the durable Joe somehow survived and got back into the fight. However, he had sustained shattered check bones in this onslaught.

It was touch and go and by the middle of the ninth, Morrison appeared to be fading rapidly. He looked spent and in pain, badly cut above one eye, and now bleeding from the mouth. Dangerously, his jaw was hanging wide-open.

Hipp was coming on strong and the fight clearly was up for grabs. He was dominating the ninth round and Tommy looked ripe for the picking, but then, like a bolt of lightening, the exhausted and bleeding “Duke” staggered Hipp with a savage right and took him out with a right-left-right combo that had pure menace written all over it. The final shot was a malefic uppercut, as blood and sweat splattered with the force of the blows. The fight was immediately halted by referee Vic Drakulich as Hipp, on Queer Street, was just able to get up inside the count.

Joe Hipp had put Tommy through pure hell. At the time of stoppage, judges Keith McDonald and Herb Santos had it for Morrison both by the slim margin of 76-75 while Doug Tucker had it 75-76 for the Boss.

The fight was televised ABC’s Wide World of Sports, but it was an afternoon show in the spring and many fans missed it thus qualifying it as a true closet classic. Yet the video footage affirmed what those who were lucky enough to witness it live knew; namely, it was hard core action that featured broken bones and blood and guts. It was unforgettable.

Article posted on 17.04.2008

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