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Morrison predicts easy win in bout with MMA fighter

6/8/2007 - Boxing

CAMP VERDE, Ariz. -- Tommy "the Duke" Morrison says an MMA
fighter is no match for a trained boxer.

And he plans prove it Saturday night in a cage outside a casino
in northern Arizona.

Morrison, the former world heavyweight champion who tested
positive for HIV 11 years ago, will make his mixed-martial arts
debut in an unsanctioned bout at Cliff Castle Casino against John
Stover, a 325-pounder who outweighs Morrison by more than 100
pounds.

"I'm just going to walk out and hit him on the chin," Morrison
said at a news conference Thursday night. "I'm concerned about
killing someone. I'm not kidding.

"We're trained to hit a moving target. These guys run in with
their chin hanging out."

The question about Morrison's HIV status could be answered by the end of the month, when Morrison's camp hopes to conduct a very public blood test in Las Vegas and, as his publicist Lisa Woodard said, "put at end to this once and for all."

Added Morrison, in an interview with ESPN.com on Friday: "I am negative and that's that. I will go to Vegas and have a test and have a press conference and it will be over. I'll do that in about two weeks to a month."

The brash-talking Morrison remains a boxer at heart, and he
hopes for another shot at the heavyweight title. But for now -- and
for an undisclosed sum -- he's venturing into the wild world of MMA.

Morrison, who said he weighs about 213 pounds, said he has done
little MMA training, although he expressed concern about wearing
four-ounce fingerless gloves.

"I'm a little nervous about that -- not for myself but for the
other guy," Morrison said. "To me, it just seems like someone
signing up for assassination class. He must be out of his mind."

Stover did not attend the news conference, and there were
questions about whether he would show up for the fight, which will
be held about 90 miles north of Phoenix.

"I'm sure he's on his way," promoter Peter McKinn said. "If
it was me, I wouldn't be on my way."

Morrison's MMA venture is the latest chapter in the colorful
life of the man who beat George Foreman, stopped Razor Ruddock and
fought Lennox Lewis. Morrison seemed on his way to a big-money
showdown with then-champion Mike Tyson when he tested positive for
HIV before a 1996 tuneup bout in Las Vegas.

The 38-year-old Morrison has been attempting a comeback after an
11-year retirement following the discovery that he was HIV
positive. Morrison claims he has taken several HIV tests during his
comeback bid and all have been negative.

"They've been telling me I've been dying for 11 years," said
Morrison, who became emotional as he discussed the subject.

McKinn said Morrison would not have to take a blood test for the
MMA fight. The bout is being held on the Yavapai-Apache Nation,
outside's the state boxing commission's jurisdiction.

The fight is not part of Morrison's three-year contract with Top
Rank. McKinn said he was trying to arrange a Top Rank-sponsored
boxing match for Morrison at Cliff Castle June 29.

"I'm a boxer," Morrison said.

Morrison returned to the boxing ring earlier this year in West
Virginia, knocking out John Castle in the second round.

MMA legend Dan "the Beast" Severn (81-15-7) will fight Victor
Vincelette (2-2) in the main event Saturday night. Severn, who
turns 50 next year, wrestled at Arizona State from 1976-80 and
served as a coach there until 1986.


ESPN.com writers Elizabeth Merrill and Dan Rafael contributed to this report.