A lot of controversy and hype surrounded the return of former pro heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrision as he fought his first MMA match against John Stover yesterday in Camp Verde, AZ. The ref stopped the fight at 2:08 of Round 1 when Morrison began striking the head of Stover with undefended blows. Morrison has been out of fighting since 1996 when the Nevada State Athletic Commission found him positive for HIV.
Stover came out quick and was able to back Morrison into the cage where he unloaded a series of short punches to Morrison’s head. Morrison was able to slip out and circle back to the center of the ring where he is much more comfortable. In his boxing shoes and trunks, Morrison found himself getting a rhythm and setting up some quick punch combinations on Stover. Stover began bleeding from the nose (probably broken) and decided to take the fight to the cage again for his type of fight, a close range battle. Morrison escaped the trap again and began unloading powerful shots to the body until Stover began to hunch over, then Morrison focused on the head until the fight was stopped.
Morrison claims that the reason he tested positive back in 1996 was because the testing then was not accurate and that he had taken steroids, which caused a false positive. Noone questioned the tests because Morrison began to drop a lot a weight which he says was because of illegal drug use like cocaine. He also says that he has not taken any medication for HIV since being released from jail.
On February 12th of this year, Morrison was cleared by tests of both HIV 1 and 2 as well as Hepatitis B and C. The story didn’t end there, Morrison’s former agent Randy Lang came forth this week saying that he didn’t condone this fight because he witnessed Morrison testing positive for HIV is his attempts to get his boxing license reinstated. Lang claims there was a cover-up and that Morrison is still carrying the virus.
With all of this floating around, John Stover was undecided up until the day of the fight, weather or not to keep his fight with Morrison. He decided to believe the tests and go on as planned. The drama didn’t end there, as the show started it was announced that it would not be a true MMA bout and that there would be no ground fighting, elbows, knees, or kicks of any kind. Looking at Morrison and the shape he was in for the fight, it is hard for me to believe that he is still HIV positive, especially after so much time has passed since his first positive test.
The modified rules were a definite advantage to Morrison. After the loss Stover said,
“If the fight went to the ground he would have been done in like a minute. A little less than that, about 30 seconds.”