When you think of some of the all-time great heavyweight champs in boxing, many people name the usually suspects. Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, Liston, Ali, Frazier, Forman, Tyson, the list goes on and on.
But, when you talk about some of the most underrated heavyweight champs the list gets smaller and people often overlook Tommy Morrison.
Morrison passed away at the young age of 44. According to Morrison’s longtime promoter, Tony Holden, Morrison died at 11:50PM Sunday night with his wife, Trisha, by his side.
Morrison led a hard life outside the ring, and was tested positive for HIV in 1996, thus ending his boxing career. There has been no cause of his death made public, and Holden refused to comment on it. Trisha Morrison went on record saying that her husband had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, not HIV.
But, the boxing world, should remember Morrison for being a very good fighter, who was an underrated champ and had such promise in the ring.
There are some that will say Morrison was overrated because his chin was soft and he because he could not handle the jab.
“Once he met someone with heart and a good jab, it was over for him,” said former WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight and WBO Oriental Heavyweight champ Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett.
However, many will remember Morrison, for his hard-partying ways, and not for his sweet left hook, massive punching power, and for his knack of fighting every round hard all the time.
“He did have a nice left, but I think his lifestyle held his possibility to be better,” added Barrett.
Other’s feel he had such promise that was never fulfilled.
“Tommy Morrison was one of the most promising heavyweight fighters out there, said Travis Simms, former WBA light middleweight champion.
That was never more evident in 1995, when Morrison won three fights before meeting former #1 contender Razor Ruddock.
Ruddock dropped Morrison in the first round, but the hard-nosed and tough Morrison recovered to force a standing count in round two. He then fought Ruddock on even terms for five rounds.
In an exciting sixth round that was filled with high-drama, Ruddock hurt Morrison with a quick combination. Morrison, who appeared to be hurt and in trouble, showed the heart of a champ, delivering a tremendous hook that floored Ruddock.
Ruddock was able to get to his feet, but Morrison as he always did, fought forward and was able to get Ruddock up against the ropes, peppering him with flurry after flurry.
Just as the bell was about to sound, the referee stepped in and declared Morrison the winner by TKO.
“He was a pretty good fighter, in fact he reminded me of Rocky Marciano with his devastating one punch knockout power,” added Simms.
We forget that Morrison fought Carl Williams and of course George Foreman. He was going to fight WBC champ Lennox Lewis but a journeyman by the name of Michael Bentt upset Morrison. Bentt only won 13 fights in his career and injuries forced him to retire, but that night he pulled off the shocker.
However, the bottom line is Morrison ended his career with a stellar 49-3-1 mark with 44 KO’s to his credit and was a WBO champion and was always a threat to KO his opponent.
”I had nothing but respect for Tommy and counted him among the most dangerous men I’ve stepped into the ring with,” tweeted Lennox Lewis.
Yes, he had issues outside the ring, some of the greatest boxers off all-time had issues and problems outside the ring.
But today, we remember an underrated champ, who lived hard, fought hard and left us to soon.