By Mark Vester
A proposed fight that involves former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison is causing a storm of controversy in Melbourne, Australia. There is a plan to have Morrison face Australian heavyweight champ John Hopoate at some point in the later part of 2009. The fight is going to be part of a pay-per-view event in the country. Hopoate is the frontrunner for Morrison, and Solomon Haumono is the backup if Hopoate turns the fight down. Melbourne promoter Peter Maniatis is putting the show together and may approach Bob Mirovic or Nathan Briggs if he can't secure Hopoate or Haumono.
Morrison tested positive for HIV in 1996 and retired after he was stipped of his boxing license. He returned to the ring in 2007, stating that he was HIV free, and claimed that his blood test result in 1996 was a "false-postive." He fought once in 2007 in West Virginia and took another fight in Mexico in February of 2008. He won both by knockout. Even though he passed all of the pre-fight medical exams, including blood tests that showed he was HIV-negative - there was controversy with allegations of tampering and misrepresentation of the negative tests. There was also a June 08 article in the Arizona Republic that claimed Morrison had recently tested positive for HIV.
Dr. Lou Lewis, who is a consultant for the NSW Boxing Authority, said Morrison will be tested for HIV at the highest level. He vowed to protect any Australian fighter who plans to fight Morrison, Hopoate or whoever. He says Morrison would have to arrive in the country a few weeks early to go through numerous tests to detect any issues in his blood work.
"He'd be tested for HIV one and two, Hepatitis B and C. If he has it [HIV] you'd want to protect his opponent. Assuming he did have HIV, I would be concerned even sitting ringside. If he had HIV and was cut you would be worried about his blood going into your eyes. A boxer's artery can be severed during a fight and his blood spurts everywhere. If Morrison had HIV it's a serious concern because the nature of boxing - it is a blood sport - means it has the potential to be very risky," Lewis told the Sun-Herald paper in Australia.
"Boxing is a dangerous enough sport without allowing a fighter in the ring with a serious contagious disease. You would not want to think a fighter would be placed at unnecessary risk through the transfer of blood. It's true that there have been cases of false positive tests before, and it is indeed possible Morrison received a false positive. Nevertheless, we'd want to test him, and we'd also want the time to test him thoroughly."
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