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Former heavyweight champion George Foreman remembers Tommy Morrison

September 03, 2013|By Lance Pugmire
  • George Foreman, right, grimaces as Tommy Morrison delivers a fake punch as the two boxers joke around while promoting their 1993 bout.
George Foreman, right, grimaces as Tommy Morrison delivers a fake punch… (Ed Andrieski / Associated…)

Former heavyweight champion George Foreman made self-deprecation a big part of his comeback, but against Tommy Morrison in 1993, he briefly returned to the menacing intimidation that marked the first chapter of his career.

“I was making a point at a press conference that to deliver the best punch, you’ve got to expose your chin, and how I was willing to do that,” Foreman said Tuesday, in his first comments since Morrison died at age 44 Sunday.

Foreman recalled how Morrison took Foreman’s words and converted them to rib the former heavyweight champion about his expanding waistline.

“The one thing about George is that he’s got two chins, so you’re not sure which one to hit,” Morrison said.

Said Foreman: “I thought that was so funny, we rehearsed it so we could use the same exchange at the next day’s press conference.

“The thing about Tommy was he was just a good guy.”

Morrison, who would beat Foreman in June 1993 by unanimous decision to earn the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title, died in Nebraska, and his family would not disclose the cause. He was suspended from boxing in 1996 after testing positive for HIV.

Foreman, a Christian preacher in Texas, said he remained in occasional contact with Morrison after their bout.

“He was a good puncher, he could hit, and he moved his head well,” Foreman said. “He had a good style. I thought he’d have a great career.”

Morrison, who also starred with Sylvester Stallone as boxer Tommy Gunn in "Rocky V," lost immediately after beating Foreman, and was defeated again by Lennox Lewis in 1995.

Morrison had said his sexually promiscuous lifestyle, along with gun and drug crimes, sabotaged what might have been a brighter career.

“I didn’t know much about his personal life, and didn’t get into it,” Foreman said.

Stardom “can be tough. One day, no one pays you any attention. The next, you’re this good-looking, popular guy that everyone wants a piece of and your whole world explodes. And if you’re not ready for it, it can take you on a ride that takes you quicker than you want to the last day of your life.”

Foreman said he could recall consoling Morrison after a loss in a fight he worked as part of HBO’s broadcast crew, and he was moved to invite Morrison to fight Marcus Rhode in Tokyo in November 1996, after the positive HIV test, on a card Foreman headlined.

“I didn’t think he should be turned away over something like that, and I’m glad I did it … he won the fight,” Foreman said.

Morrison fought only twice more, in 2007 in West Virginia and in 2008 in Mexico. He retired with a 48-3-1 record with 42 knockouts.

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