October - A Cruel Month For Tommy “The Duke” Morrison!

By James Slater - Whilst scanning (surely one of the most invaluable boxing web sites out there!), I noticed that they have former WBO heavyweight champ Tommy “The Duke” Morrison down as fighting again, on October 29th, in Auburn, Washington against as TBA. Who knows, the fight, which would be the 41-year-old’s first since February of 2008 (a 3rd-round TKO win in Mexico), might or might not actually happen. But in looking back at Tommy’s pro record, it is noticeable how the month of October proved to be a savagely unlucky one for him..

Back in October of 1991, The Rocky Five star was on the receiving end of one of the most brutal and hard-to-watch KO’s in recent boxing history. Almost killed by a rampant Ray Mercer, who really lived up to his nickname of “Merciless,” Morrison was defenceless along the ropes in the 5th-round, as referee Tony Perez inexplicably allowed the 1988 Olympic gold medallist to bang away at his semi-conscious, barely standing target. It was a bad night for the hyped “White Hope,” and Tommy did very well to come back from the knockout that had nothing technical about it.

The curse of October struck again a couple of years later, though!

Taking on the little-known Michael Bentt, at a time when a far more lucrative fight with Lennox Lewis was very much in the works, Tommy was smashed to defeat inside 93 shocking seconds in Oct. of 1993. Caught flush by Bennt as he was attacking himself, Morrison went down hard. Getting back up and trying his best to fight back on sheer instinct, the fighter who had upset George Foreman to win the vacant WBO strap, saw his belt, and the payday with Lewis, vanish. In may ways, this loss hurt Tommy more than the one to Mercer did.

On this very day, October 7th, in 1995, Tommy finally got his chance at Lennox. It was to be another bad night for him, however. No major title was on the line in this fight, but the bout was a big and significant one nonetheless. Tommy was coming off what is to this day his career-best showing, an exciting stoppage win over the formidable Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, and Lewis was two wins removed from his shock, title-losing defeat at the hands of Oliver McCall. The two met in Atlantic City, New Jersey (the scene of Morrison-Mercer four years earlier), with fans expecting a great fight.

Unfortunately, Tommy was outgunned from the very start. Marked up around the eyes and dropped more than once, the 26-year-old was eventually pulled out by referee Mills Lane in the 6th-round of a one-sided affair. At the time of the stoppage, Tommy was behind by 50-43, 49-44, 49-44 margins according to the three official judges.

It was shortly after that fight that news broke revealing how “The Duke” had tested positive for HIV. To this day, Tommy maintains it was a false positive, and he now (according to Boxrec) plans to fight again. Morrison has boxed sporadically since the Lewis loss, only the third defeat in his 52 fight career (one draw), and his gumption must be applauded.

However, if he does go through with his apparently planned Oct. 29th fight, it is to be hopped he has more luck than he had against Messrs. Mercer, Bentt and Lewis!

Article posted on 08.10.2010

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