|Tommy Morrison Part One: “I will bring back a lot of people to the sport”
INTERVIEW By Benny Henderson Jr (Dec 29, 2007) Doghouse Boxing (PART TWO)
After an eleven year hiatus from the ring, former WBO/IBC heavyweight title holder Tommy ‘The Duke’ Morrison, 47-3-1 (41), has returned to the square ring and has nothing but confidence in his celebrated as well as controversial return.
We all know the story of Morrison, a tough hard-hitting heavyweight cut down in his prime after testing positive to the HIV virus that had kept Tommy out of the ring since 1996. After declaring it was a false positive and testing negative, ‘The Duke’ made his return this past February knocking out John Castle in the second round with a
Morrison signature left hook.
Since then Tommy has competed in a MMA match, which he won and now the rejuvenated heavyweight has his sights set back on the top. In this two part interview that Tommy and his fiancé/manager Lisa Woodard conducted with the Doghouse, the two speak on Tommy’s return as well as other subjects, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Give the readers some of your recent happenings in your career.
Tommy Morrison: Nothing has gone on since June, which was my last fight. We had had several fights since then but never panned out. This Randy Lang character has kind of locked everything down and shut some things down for a little while. So for the mean time I continue to lift weights, I go to the boxing gym a couple times a week to keep the wheels greased until we get the green light which should be coming up in the next few weeks, other than that just hanging out.
BH: This past February you stepped back in the ring after eleven years out of the business. You were facing John Castle, not an opponent who would be a massive threat to someone of your credentials but after the long lay off I myself felt he was a reasonable opponent. Although you have fought numerous times, can you walk the fans through your thoughts leading up to the fight, from the ring entrance to the fight itself. And what were you feeling when Castle went down and having your hands being raised in victory after all this time?
TM: It was a good feeling; it was a feeling of vindication after eleven and a half years. Making the walk to the ring was something I have not done in almost twelve years and it was a little spooky but when you have been doing something you whole life once you get in there and the bell rings everything goes back to normal. I moved around a little bit and got hit a few times which I wanted to get myself in the groove again. I knew I was in there with a guy whom I was better than, I am always the guy who is going to suffer ten times more criticism than anybody else. But you have to crawl before you walk, I do feel like it was a good opponent for the first time out, getting in front of a crowd again and being in the middle of the media hype was a little bit of a distraction but it all came back. In the second round I landed a pretty left hook and that was the end of it. I think I was a little to picky with my shots but I knew once I caught him it would be over with.
BH: Lisa, what were your thoughts on Tommy fighting again and the fight itself?
Lisa Woodard: First of all Benny I did not know who Tommy was when I met him. When we got to West Virginia for the fight, I have been a publicist for ten years and have worked in boxing I never knew how big Tommy was in boxing. I was bombarded from around the world with media. Our phones were ringing off the hook; I was a little in shock in how famous Tommy was and how big his name was in boxing. I have been to many big fights but this was so exiting to be there and to see Tommy’s dream coming true. Then all of a sudden he got in the ring I was like oh no that is the man I love up there fighting, all my excitement left and I was scared to death. Watching him fight I was crying, I did not know Tommy’s abilities as a boxer, when Tommy got hit I was really scared and then the second round the next thing you know the guy (John Castle) was laying on the floor. It was different watching somebody you love fight in the ring versus it just being a job. When he knocked him out the relief flooded me.
BH: Since your return to the ring you also stepped into the world of MMA, my question is why did you endeavor into the MMA and is there any plans in returning to the sport?
TM: No, that was a one time thing, it was actually a favor for a friend who was a promoter, he partnered with a guy and they agreed that they could get me a stand up striking match, witch it still MMA without the grappling or going to the ground. They never explained the rules to me or let me know, I did not know if the guy was going to be elbowing me or head butting me, kneeing or kicking. As well we had an hour and a half complications before the fight.
Lisa Woodard: Then Tommy’s opponent said he did not know the rules prior to the fight, it was in the contract he just did not want to look like an idiot.
TM: He started to get scared.
BH: It has been declared that you had a false positive for the HIV virus, and now you have tested negative for the disease. And although you tested negative for the virus the controversy still surrounds you with former agents making claims and so on. My question is, how do you keep your morale high with all the hoopla?
TM: I have tested negative half a dozen times and when you know what the truth is it is easy to let things slide off your back like water on a duck’s feathers. Once I am cleared in Vegas I can go fight anywhere without questions anymore. We know what the truth is and we keep working hard in trying to improve my skills until then because I am not getting any younger. I am thirty-eight but I have taken good care of myself for the past ten years. I am getting the passion back; I don’t have all these people now swinging on my jock; it is just Lisa and I this time. That lifts my spirits also, and now we have a great team around us in Top Rank promoting me and I have a good attorney. That is refreshing also; we are just playing the waiting game right now. We are excited about what it about to happen.
BH: We both know how the media has reacted to your return, but how have the fans embraced you with this return, are they supporting you in the return?
TM: Absolutely, I think about 97% of them are. We went to some fights just recently and they announced my name along with a couple of other fighters there, the reception was pretty overwhelming. The fans are ready for this, the heavyweight division is dead right now, and nobody is active. I am looking forward to what is coming up in the next few months. I think I will bring back a lot of people to the sport.
I would like to thank Tommy as well as Lisa for their time and thoughts. Stay tuned for part two of this interview where Tommy and Lisa speak out on Tommy’s reality show that will be airing soon. For more info on ‘The Duke’ check out www.tommymorrison.net.
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