CAMP VERDE, Ariz. -- Former heavyweight champion Tommy
Morrison won his MMA debut but lost the crowd Saturday night.
Fighting in a cage on a clear night in the desert, Morrison
knocked out John Stover (7-2) at 2:08 of the first round. Boos
rained down as a panting Morrison raised his hand after breaking
Stover's nose with a straight right.
Although the unsanctioned bout was fought on an MMA card at
Cliff Castle Casino, it had little of the rough-and-tumble
associated with the sport, and that may have stoked the ire of the
crowd estimated at 2,500.
Stover said he originally agreed to the bout despite a
stipulation against grappling, a big disadvantage for the 340-pound
Stover, who outweighed Morrison by 125 pounds. But an hour before
the fight, Stover said he was told he would not be allowed to
strike Morrison with his knees or feet.
That essentially reduced the bout to a boxing match with
"They changed the rules and I just had to roll with it,"
Stover said. "I did the best I could do."
The 38-year-old Morrison has been attempting a comeback after an
11-year retirement following the discovery that he was HIV
The fight came one day after Morrison's former agent, Randy
Lang, told ESPN.com that Morrison is still HIV positive.
Lang, who spent roughly 10 months in Morrison's camp, lodged accusations of possible blood tampering and fraud and said the boxer tested positive for HIV as late as January but still fought a month later in West Virginia -- claims Morrison strongly denies.
"I only know what the doctor told me and what Randy told me -- I am negative," Morrison said. "I went and took all the tests. They told me I am fine, the doctor and Randy. Randy is a greedy person. He got exposed, and now he's trying to hurt me."
McKinn said Morrison did not have to take a blood test for the
MMA fight. The bout was staged on the Yavapai-Apache Nation,
outside's the state boxing commission's jurisdiction.
Stover said he didn't believe he was taking a risk by taking the
bout. He said the promoters provided him "a pile" of paperwork
showing that Morrison had not tested positive.
"I don't know how many times I've heard from people that they
were afraid to fight him because they don't want to risk it,"
Stover said. "Well, the only thing they're risking is rumors.
"Some people would be terrified of the rumors, but I gave him a
That was about all Stover was able to give Morrison under the
But even with the rules tilted in his favor, Morrison struggled
to put away Stover, a 36-year-old sheetrock hanger from Pine Ridge,
S.D. Early in the bout, Stover tied Morrison up and ran him into
the fence. Morrison looked at the ref, his eyes wide, as Stover
threw a series of ineffective right hands at the side of his head.
"I wanted to knee him," Stover said.
Asked how the fight might have gone under traditional MMA rules,
Stover said, "If I could have went to the ground, he would have
been done in 30 seconds, maybe."
Morrison also wore shoes, which are typically not allowed in MMA
Morrison, still sucking air, was hustled into a minivan without
speaking to reporters.
"Obviously, he's got a different attitude towards everything,"
Stover said. "He's rude. He's obnoxious. He's got a lot over his
head right now."
ESPN.com's Elizabeth Merrill and Dan Rafael as well as the Associated Press contributed to this report.