Ex-heavyweight champ Tommy Morrison dies at 44

Tommy Morrison © Action Images
Tommy Morrison © Action Images

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison has died at the age of 44.

Morrison was diagnosed in 1996 with the HIV virus that causes Aids. The Tulsa World reported his death on Monday.

Tony Holden, Morrison’s former promoter, told the newspaper that the fighter, who appeared in the fifth Rocky film as the main rival for Sylvester Stallone’s fictional fighter, had died in Omaha, Nebraska, on Sunday night.

The cause of his death has not been revealed by the family or authorities.

Morrison, an Oklahoma native, beat 44-year-old George Foreman on points over 12 rounds in 1993 to claim the WBO heavyweight title but lost the belt four months later.

REUTERS reports that Holden said Morrison was with his wife Trisha when he died.

Renowned for his lethal left hook and movie-star looks, Morrison also beat Razor Ruddock, Carl Williams and James Tillis but lost to Lennox Lewis, Ray Mercer and Michael Bent.

Prior to a bout in 1996, Morrison tested positive for the Aids virus. His boxing licence was suspended but he returned to the ring 11 years later and won his last two professional bouts.

Morrison, who finished his career with a record of 48-3, with one drawn and 42 knockouts, played the role of Tommy “The Machine” Gunn in Rocky V after Stallone had watched him in a fight during 1989 and offered him a screen test.