CAMPE VERDE, Ariz., June 7 – Inside the Cliff Castle Casino conference room boxer Tommy “The Duke” Morrison answered questions about why he is turning to mixed martial arts. The former world champ also addressed his health.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona once called mixed martial arts “human cockfighting.” Ninety miles north of the state capitol, Morrison will challenge himself in the MMA arena Saturday night.
In 1996 Morrison retired from boxing after revealing that he tested positive for HIV. After an 11-year hiatus from the sport he loved, Morrison declared himself HIV free prior his return to the ring, claiming tests since the one conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission have come back negative for the life-threatening virus.
“The more I read, the more I researched, I realized that everything the doctors were telling me was a lie,” Morrison said.
Morrison returned to the boxing ring on Feb. 22 of this year. Licensed by the West Virginia Athletic Commission, Morrison dispatched brawler John Castle via KO early in their scheduled four-round fight.
The Arizona State Boxing Commission has no sanctioning power over the Worldwide Fighting Championship event, which is being promoted outside of the jurisdiction of the state regulatory body on the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
No blood, heart, or eye exams were required as part of the pre-fight medical examination.
The emotional Morrison felt even after the layoff he is in top physical shape.
“They’ve been telling me I’ve been dying for 11 years,” he said. “I feel fine. The day they told me I was clinically dead I didn’t feel any different sitting in that chair than I do standing up here right now. Something’s wrong. It just doesn’t add up.”
Morrison was upbeat about trying his hand at the MMA game and also about trying out the sport’s equipment, having never put on MMA-style gloves until earlier this week.
“Its something I’m very excited about,” said the 38-year-old from Jay, Oklahoma. “This is the first time I’ve fought with 4-ounce gloves on and I’m worried about it. Not for myself but for my opponent.”
The confident boxer made it known that he feels his style of fighting will translate well into the cage.
“I would never grapple with someone unless I was trained to do it,” he said. “To get in there and throw hands with someone who is trained to throw hands doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m here to prove a point. I didn’t come here to play. I’m here to do a job and I plan on doing it in spectacular fashion.”
Morrison stated his fight against 325-pound heavyweight John Stover, a no-show at Thursday’s press conference, won’t last long enough to get to the ground.
As part of his training camp, Morrison, who plans on fighting at 213 pounds, said he did not hire a wrestling or jiu-jitsu coach in preparation for the bout.
“I’m just going to walk out there and hit him on the chin,” he said. “That’s all it takes.”
Hmmmm…does it sound like he’s trying to prove that boxing is superior to MMA?