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HIV-Positive Morrison Says He'll Fight Again

Boxing: He claims any return to the ring would be to help children who have the AIDS virus.


For charity, for one last fight, for reasons that elude the rest of the boxing world, heavyweight Tommy Morrison says he is coming back to fight again, seven months after announcing he would retire after contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Morrison has no bout scheduled as of yet, and no opponent, but he told a Tulsa news conference Thursday afternoon that he hopes to fight by the spring and is returning to raise money for children who have the AIDS virus.

He denied that his return to the ring--where he is known as a profuse bleeder--would put his opponent, the referee or anybody else in the arena at risk.

"There has never been one documented case in boxing history that this has ever happened," the 27-year-old Morrison said. "Based upon this fact, I have decided to enter the ring for one last fight.

"I know there's a lot people out there who probably are not going to like what I'm doing," the heavyweight said. "But they will have to listen to what I have to say."

His lawyer, Stuart Campbell, advised Morrison not to take reporters' questions at the news conference.

But that, of course, did not stop the rush of legitimate questions this decision raised:

Who would sanction a Morrison bout? What about the indefinite medical suspension imposed by the influential Nevada Athletic Commission after he tested positive before a scheduled February bout in Las Vegas? Is it legal to prevent him from fighting?

A number of fighters have expressed interest in fighting Morrison, according to Campbell, specifically pointing to Ross Puritty, who fought to a draw with Morrison in 1994.

"I think HIV is not as easy to catch as everyone says it is," Puritty told the Tulsa World recently. "I don't plan to have sex with the guy. If the money is right, I'll fight anybody."

Before last February, only seven states and Puerto Rico mandated AIDS testing for fighters. But Morrison's announcement that he had the AIDS virus served as a springboard for a handful of states--including California--to pass measures that force a fighter to show he is HIV-negative before receiving a license to fight.

Oklahoma, where Morrison's return bout might be held, does not have an official boxing commission, but has an advisory board, which said Thursday that it would probably honor Nevada's suspension of Morrison.

Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said if Morrison applies for a license in Nevada, he must test HIV-negative.

"We feel very firm in our policy," Ratner said, "and we're not about to change it."


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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