|What if Tommy Morrison Really Returns?
By Bobby Jones (July 8, 2006)
It was announced just a couple days ago that Tommy ‘The Duke’ Morrison was back in the gym and preparing to make a comeback after 10 years away from the ring. Since it was announced the Morrison had been diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Morrison has made an announcement every couple of years saying he will comeback. Morrison is telling people that his HIV results were “false positive” and that the positive result could have been caused by steroid use. But, as lead writer of DoghouseBoxing.com Benny Henderson pointed out to me, wouldn’t he have been tested for HIV more than once between 10 years ago and now? Very good point, Benny.
Almost a year ago I was fortunate enough to interview ‘The Duke’ for a website that is no longer operating. In that interview he also suggested to me that he was planning a comeback, because recent blood tests suggested little to no evidence of HIV was still in his system. This is very good news I thought, and I believe everyone will agree with me if this is the case, but no major news story has ever broke telling us this.
Morrison, and rightfully so, is possibly having a hard time adjusting to life without boxing. When he was forced to retire at the end of 1996 he was still clearly in a position to fight for a title for a long time. He had 50 fights in only 8 years, winning 46 of them. ‘The Duke’, or as some people might remember him Tommy ‘The Machine’ Gunn, was also a
movie star, appearing in Rocky V. To have such heartbreaking news given to you at the peak of your career must be no doubt earth shattering, so fans should understand that, even 10 years later, sometimes it’s hard letting go.
When I spoke with Morrison, I did get the idea that he was just talking sometimes to hear himself talk. While he was enjoying a quiet life with his wife and kids in Tennessee in that time, you still most definitely get the idea that he wanted his name out there, and I even felt a bit sorry for the man.
Let’s give Morrison the benefit of the doubt, and it comes out that he never had HIV at all, and it could have been the steroids that caused the false positive test. First of all, boxing aside, this would be great news for Tommy Morrison and his family. But, coming back to boxing let’s try to examine what he could possibly have left.
At 37 years old, and being out of a ring for 10 years you can’t even try to guess what he could still give to the sport. He fought 50 times in 8 years, a very fast pace, but there is a difference in taking a break, and taking a decade off. Ring rust wouldn’t even begin to describe what would await Morrison in his first fight back. Let’s try ring corrosion.
A lot of times when a heavyweight announces a comeback we writers go on to say something like “Well in this day in age of heavyweights, who knows, he might have a shot.” I am not going that route. Who wants to comeback against a fighter like Wladimir Klitschko or a puncher like Sam Peter? If ring rust is a problem, stay away from James Toney, who even with a spare tire can box circles around most of the heavyweights. No offense to Morrison, but my guess is if he does come back he won’t ever crack the top 50. But, that may be fine for Morrison, as long as he can make some money from it.
Morrison was a cash cow when he was forced to retire, and imagine the amounts of money he was forced to walk away from. Let’s try to guess together: $20-40 million maybe in fights, and maybe another $10-20 million in endorsements. Maybe he still could have acted, so another $10 million maybe. No way will he make that kind of money in a comeback, but hopefully for him he could make enough to satisfy him and his family so they can enjoy the rest of their life happily ever after.
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