Boxer Tommy Morrison dead at 44

Tommy Morrison, the hard-punching heavyweight with boy-band good looks who once beat George Foreman and starred in the Rocky franchise before falling ill in recent years (all the while denying he was HIV positive) died on Sunday at a hospital in Nebraska. Morrison (who was nicknamed “The Duke”) was 44.
Morrison’s death was confirmed by his wife, Trisha to the mixed martial arts website, “MMA Dirty,” which reported he died of “respiratory and metabolic acidosis and multiple organ failure.” His death was also confirmed by Morrison’s long-time promoter, Tony Holden to the Associated Press.

Boxer Tommy Morrison dead at 44

Tommy Morrison.

Tommy Morrison (the former heavyweight champion who stood toe-to-toe with Lennox Lewis and George Foreman and later tested positive for HIV) died Monday. He was 44.
Morrison died Sunday night at a Nebraska hospital, said Tony Holden, his longtime promoter and close friend. The family would not disclose the cause of death.
In 1993, Morrison beat Foreman to win the WBO heavyweight title, only to lose it to unheralded Michael Bentt in a defeat that scuttled a showdown with Lewis. Morrison would fight Lewis a couple of years later, getting knocked out in the sixth round in Atlantic City, N.J.
Morrison, nicknamed “The Duke,” never reached the status of such contemporaries as Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, but it was surely a full career.
He was a prodigious puncher whose bid to fight in the 1988 Seoul Olympics ended at the hands of Ray Mercer, who later dealt Morrison his first professional loss. He had a starring role in “Rocky V” alongside Sylvester Stallone. And perhaps most memorably, Morrison tested positive for HIV when the virus still carried a significant stigma, only to declare later the test was false.

His longtime promoter and close friend, Tony Holden, confirmed that “the Duke” had died, but his family would not disclose the cause of death. Morrison and his wife, Trisha, continued to deny that the former champion ever had HIV during the final years of his life.
“Tommy’s a very stubborn person and he views things the way he wants to view things. That’s his right and privilege” – Holden said. “All through his career, him and I would come not to physical blows but disagreements on certain things. We always ended up friends. That was Tommy.
“That’s the way Tommy took off after he was told he was HIV-positive” – Holden added. “When he first was told, I was taking him to seek treatment and to different doctors around the country. And then he started research on the Internet and started saying it was a conspiracy. He went in that direction and never looked back.”
The controversy, along with Morrison’s rapid decline, overshadowed a stellar career.
Morrison was a prodigious puncher whose bid to fight in the 1988 Seoul Olympics ended at the hands of Ray Mercer, who later dealt him his first professional loss. Along the way, Morrison became such a recognizable face that he was cast in Rocky V alongside Sylvester Stallone.
Morrison won his first 28 professional fights, beating faded champions such as Pinklon Thomas along the way. He hit it big at the Thomas & Mack Center in the summer of 1993 — a unanimous decision over Foreman, then in the midst of his comeback — to claim a vacant world title.

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