Quijano: RIP, Tommy “Gun” Morrison-A A +A
Saturday, September 7, 2013
IF YOU’RE wondering why I’m such a boxing fanatic, some of the blame has to be partially laid on those “Rocky” movies.
Yes, that everyman-underdog concept played by Sly Stallone struck a chord in me growing up and up to this day, I carry that partiality with me shamelessly.
I remember how Cebuanos flocked in droves to movie theaters when “Rocky III” came out . For weeks after, the villain in that movie, Clubber Lang, would be the conversation starter during the eponymous breaks in grade school.
Next to Lang, though, the anti-hero that I loved most was Tommy Gunn in Rocky V. I found the character of Russian Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” too illusory with his freakish superhuman strength coming straight out of a comic book.
Apollo Creed of Rocky 1 and 2 was cool too, but he became Rocky’s bosom buddy.
TOMMY MORRISSON. Gunn was played by a real heavyweight contender named Tommy Morrison who died a few days ago at the age of 44.
It probably wasn’t difficult for Morrisson to essay the role of Gunn. After all, in real life Morrison fought with the same feral energy as Gunn did.
A fearless, no- nonsense brawler who relied on power and aggression, Morrison practically only had to play himself on a thespian level.
In Rocky V, Balboa takes Tommy Gunn under his wing, trains him and guides him towards being a contender.
Obviously still yearning for that fistic rush, Balboa relishes living vicariously through his ward’s championship exploits.
But as Gunn marches on towards the top, he severs ties with his mentor and takes up with a shady promoter named George Washington Duke who suspiciously acts and looks like promoter Don King.
Anyway, we all know how the finale of the movie plays out. Rocky and Tommy end up brawling in an alley and Rocky kicks his butt in front of his adoring South Philly neighbors.
TILLIS. One of my most memorable moments of Morrisson’s pro career was his demolition of James Tillis. In that fight, Morrison was just fresh off the box office success of “Rocky V” and this was his first real test. People were wondering if he was really a fighter or just an actor.
“Quick” Tillis was an ex-champion who had seen better days, but at 33 years of age, he was still a dangerous veteran who was expected to give Morrisson a tough time. Tommy was 24-0 with 20 knockouts.
In the first round, Tommy tore into Tillis with vicious hooks and in the first minute scored a knockdown. Morrison followed it up with a vicious flurry punctuated by an uppercut, and down went Tillis again.
The end came via another left hook at around 1:10 mark of the first round.
Talk of life imitating art, that fight eerily resembled his character’s one round demolition of champ Union Cain in Rocky V.
MERCER. Of course, for all his exciting qualities, Morrisson was a flawed fighter whose defense was spotty and had questionable stamina. He also wasn’t as durable as his hale, robust physique suggested.
His infirmities were in full display when he went up against “ Merciless” Rey Mercer four fights later.
He did well in the first few rounds scoring with some hooks but Mercer was a tough customer known for his granite chin.
His best round came in the 3rd when he caught Mercer with a combination and trapped him in a corner.
But by the 4th round, Morrison’s activity dissipated and Mercer nailed him with some brutal right hands.
At the start of the fifth round, Mercer suddenly unleashed a barrage on a tiring Morrison along the ropes. A brutal left hook had him out on his feet and the fight was stopped.
Morrison would later on become the WBO champ by defeating George Foreman. He also scored wins against Razor Ruddock and Pinklon Thomas but was stopped by Lennox Lewis in 6 rounds in 1995.
The Last Round tolls the bell for Tommy Morrison, an exciting fighter who was a courageous warrior in and out of the ring.
R.I.P. Tommy. Thank you for the memories.
LAST ROUNDS. It’s on my ultra-marathoner brother Ramsey who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 08, 2013.