Morrison's blood tests negative for second time

Updated: April 27, 2007, 7:34 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Heavyweight Tommy Morrison was granted a boxing license in Texas on Thursday when his blood test came back negative for HIV.

The negative test cleared the path for Morrison (47-3-1, 41 KOs) to face Dale Ortiz (3-1, 2 KOs) in a four-round fight Friday night at Houston's Plaza Hotel in the second bout of his improbable comeback.

Morrison, 38, tested positive for HIV, the virus known to cause AIDS, on the eve of a 1996 bout in Las Vegas and was suspended indefinitely.

Eleven years later, Morrison mounted a comeback after several blood tests came up clean, and he was granted a license to fight in West Virginia, where he knocked out John Castle in the second round Feb. 22.

The scientific answer
How could Tommy Morrison test positive for HIV in 1996 and pass a blood test now?

Medicine may have suppressed the virus to undetectable levels. Dr. Jeff Kirchner of the American Academy of HIV Medicine said the virus never goes away, but that drugs can put a patient in remission. "You can live a very healthy, very long life with this disease," Kirchner said.

"[But] you're positive for the rest of your life, even if you're going very well and are in remission."

--Elizabeth Merrill

He arrived in Texas earlier this week and submitted to more testing.

"I got a verbal report that [the HIV test] is negative," Dickie Cole of the Texas Department of Combative Sports told ESPN.com. "I'll pick up the written report in the morning."

Cole said he received the report from Dr. Jorge Guerrero, who is a Texas ringside physician.

"The doctor said he is clear and he won't cause anyone any problems," Cole said.

Morrison was tested last week in Arizona and the negative results were forwarded to Texas, Cole said. But Texas officials wanted to perform their own test.

"We ran a more intense test, a complete blood workup," Cole said. "It was negative for HIV, hepatitis B and C. He's licensed. We could have licensed him with the original blood work from Arizona a week ago. We got that written report, but we wanted our doctor to check him also. The doctor did that. He's licensed in Texas and able to fight."

Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler said Morrison didn't appear worried while waiting for the outcome of the test.

"He was just one of the guys in line filling out his forms," Trampler said. "No one was on pins and needles. He expected to pass. It didn't seem to be weighing on him. The fact that he passed is significant only in that it was another state, another milestone.

"But for him, it's the same test he's already passed. They put the needle in his arm, they take the blood and they test it. He's been through it so many times. He was maybe a little irritable because he had to go get his arm pricked again a week after he had a test (in Arizona), but he will comply with anything they ask and not make a stink about it."

Morrison, who weighed in at 213½ pounds to Ortiz's 300 pounds, told ESPN.com in March that he would take whatever tests any commission asked him to take in order to be licensed.

"Any place we go, we will pass their tests and they will have to let me fight," said Morrison, who won a vacant heavyweight belt by outpointing George Foreman in 1993.

"Each time we fight and win, it strengthens our case. It will become less and less of an issue. We'll have to jump through some hoops for the next few months, but then it will die down and I can just get on with business."

Trampler said Morrison's bout was not scheduled to be part of the Telefutura broadcast, but it could make the Spanish-language telecast if there were early knockouts in other fights.

The main event feature Sergio Martinez (38-1-1, 19 KOs) of Spain against Saul Roman (23-2, 20 KOs) of Mexico in a junior middleweight title eliminator.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.