The heavyweight fight most expected would turn into either a war or end via a violent KO, or both, was dubbed “Raw Power.” It took place 25 years ago today. It was Tommy Morrison Vs. Donovan “Razor” Ruddock. And it was brutal.
Both men were fighting for their boxing livelihood. Morrison had strung together a few wins since coming shockingly unglued in his 1993 fight with Michael Bentt, while Ruddock had had just one fight since his wipe-out at the hands of Lennox Lewis in 1992. Neither man could afford to lose on the night of June 10, 1995.
Morrison was famous for his fine left hook, for his appearance in “Rocky V” and for his vulnerabilities in the ring; notably his limited stamina. Ruddock was famous for his “Smash,” his hybrid left hook/uppercut, for his amazing ability to withstand punishment. But who had more left? Morrison had been savagely hammered by Ray Mercer in 1991, and then taken out fast by Bentt. Ruddock had taken plenty of iron from Mike Tyson in two 1991 wars, and he had been iced by Lennox.
Morrison Vs. Ruddock gave fans a genuine roller-coaster/ghost train of a slugfest that would have been quite at home at any carnival.
Ruddock scored first, sending Morrison down with two right uppercuts to the chin with less than a minute gone in the opening round. The ring was small, just 16-foot, and Ruddock was back on top of Morrison as the fight resumed. Tommy fought back and the slugfest was on. The two even threw shots after the bell. Referee Ron Lipton was going to have a tough night, it seemed.
“The Duke” scored with his own right uppercut in round two, driving Ruddock into the ropes, where the Canadian was given a standing-eight count. Ruddock was hurt but Morrison had to know how “Razor” had come back from being stunned so many times before in previous fights.
The third and fourth rounds saw a good deal of trading, the pace a hot one. Ruddock looked to be on top in a pretty big way in the fifth, Tommy looking tired and worried. After a low blow from Ruddock forced a break in the action, Ruddock banged away and stunned Morrison. Was the writing on the wall? Would Morrison’s stamina issues serve to haunt him once again?
In the sixth, the fight reached legendary status. Morrison was boxing on the back foot, with Ruddock walking him down, looking to close the show. But then, after Ruddock got home with a couple of left hooks, an advancing “Razor” slung out a wild uppercut which Morrison countered – hard! Landing an absolute peach of a left hook that landed flush on Ruddock’s jaw, Morrison looked to have put his rival’s lights out. Ruddock fell as soon as the bomb connected, yet when his head hit the mat he snapped back to life. Truly astonishing stuff.
Ruddock got back up and the fight continued. Morrison came close to emptying himself as he tore at Ruddock, going for the finish that would see him pick up arguably the biggest win of his career (although Tommy had beaten heavyweight legend George Foreman in 1993, in a far less entertaining affair). Pinning Ruddock on the ropes, Morrison watched as Lipton issued another standing-eight.
Ruddock was now the man going backwards, with Morrison pounding away. Finding himself with his back to the ropes once again, Ruddock was finally saved by the referee. The shot that snapped Ruddock’s head back had been the last straw for Lipton. There were just five-seconds left in the round.
Morrison had revived his career in a massive way, a fight with Lewis now back on the cards. Ruddock would never again feature in a big fight. Sadly, Tommy would pass away at the young age of just 44 in 2013. Ruddock launched a stunner of a comeback in 2015, at the age of 51.
On the night of June 10, 1995, Morrison and Ruddock gave us a classic heavyweight battle, one that had “Raw Power” on display throughout.