BROKEN ARROW — Boxing can be glorious. It also can be ridiculous, and this is ridiculous.
Considering that Trey Lippe Morrison is the anchor of this “Rumble in the Rose District” event, it’s a significant problem. As of Thursday night, he still did not have an opponent for a Friday night fight.
His original opponent, Nick Jones, became unavailable earlier in the week. Promoter Tony Holden scrambled to identify a last-minute replacement. He contacted matchmakers all over the country.
At least two fighters seemingly had been secured, but those arrangements unraveled.
As the 6-foot-3 Lippe-Morrison checked in at 237 pounds during the Thursday weigh-in, Holden was glued to his phone while pacing a rut in the carpet.
For the sold-out 6:30 p.m. “Rumble” show at the 1,000-seat Central Park Community Center, 80% of the patrons purchased tickets because of the involvement of Lippe Morrison — the unbeaten son of former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison.
Now, there seems to exist at least a 50% chance that an outstanding lineup of bouts will not include Lippe Morrison. If Holden finds an opponent, that fighter would have to be processed Friday by the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission.
Also, Lippe Morrison would have little knowledge of that guy’s tendencies or history.
“It’s not what you want, for sure,” said Lippe Morrison, who now works with Houston trainer Bobby Benton. “This has happened before. If I get (an opponent), I’ll just have to react and fight a smart fight.”
Through 4½ years of boxing, and in spite of having had nothing in the way of amateur experience, Lippe Morrison is 16-0 and with 16 knockouts. His fights haven’t lasted long. His body of work amounts only to 31 rounds.
The “Rumble” event was supposed to have taken place outdoors, at the intersection of Main and Commercial in Broken Arrow’s Rose District, but the threat of disruptive weather forced organizers to move the fights to an indoor venue.
Three of the fights will be televised live as part of Showtime’s “ShoBox: The Next Generation” series. Those fights involve rising-star prospects who bring to Broken Arrow a combined record of 93-6-4.
While a Lippe Morrison bout was not scheduled to be televised, there’s no question he is the headliner. If there is a Lippe Morrison fight, it would be his 14th on Oklahoma soil, his first in the Tulsa area and would close the show.
Three years ago in Miami, Oklahoma, in his only fight so far that was considered truly dangerous, Lippe Morrison scored a first-round, Showtime-televised stoppage of previously undefeated Ed Latimore.
After having been idle for 13 months because of a hand injury, Lippe Morrison won in a tune-up fight in Costa Rica last month.
“My dad won a championship,” Lippe Morrison said, “and I want to win a championship. Of course, I’m always excited to fight in Oklahoma. This is home.”
As Lippe Morrison turns 30 next month, he remains a mostly unproven commodity. Like his father, he has uncommon, natural power in both hands.
Considering their physical similarities, their movements and their punching power, Tommy and Trey look a lot alike.
Lippe Morrison has endured three hand surgeries. In 2017, while training for a TV fight, he sustained a terrible cut. It happened during the final round of his final sparring session. He was wearing protective headgear, but a punch still managed to slice a deep gash above his left eyelid.
Beyond Friday, Holden says, there will be two more Lippe Morrison fights this year. Opponents will be carefully selected for those bouts, also, and then the focus will turn to a more challenging 2020.
Lippe Morrison wants bigger fights next year. Holden is ready to see how his heavyweight performs against an opponent with a world ranking.
If Lippe Morrison passes that type of test and becomes more marketable, he would be on the brink of making a lot of money.
If 2020 goes well, he could be a millionaire by the end of 2021.
“Trey has as much power as any heavyweight today,” Holden said. “There has to be more learning and training, but, yes, 2020 is a big year. It’s huge.”
Holden also promoted Tommy Morrison. They had a business partnership and a brotherhood. Morrison was the best man in the wedding of Tina and Tony Holden.
“When Trey first told me that he wanted to try boxing, I didn’t think he had a chance,” Holden recalled. “He asked for help. He’s Tommy’s son, so I wanted to help.
“He’s had some setbacks with injuries, but right now, his confidence is extremely high. He was at his most confident for the Latimore fight. I see that same confidence now.”
At ringside for the “Rumble” event will be Showtime’s Barry Tompkins, the voice of several boxing classics, including Sugar Ray Leonard’s 1987 conquest of Marvin Hagler. Providing analysis will be Steve Farhood and former middleweight champion Raul Marquez.
On the subject of Lippe Morrison’s age, Farhood said, “The thing to remember is that he is a heavyweight, and heavyweights mature much later. The fact that he’s 30 would not concern me at all. Keep him healthy and keep him busy.
“The heavyweight division is unique in that one fight — the right fight with the right result — can change everything. Much more so than in any other division. Will he win or lose the breakthrough fight? We don’t know yet, but if he wins it with that name and that style — as a puncher — he would be a player. That’s all it takes.”
As several fights seem evenly matched with talented combatants, true boxing fans should enjoy the heck out of the “Rumble in the Rose District.”
It’s undeniable, though, that the Morrison name still resonates with fans in Oklahoma. He is the undefeated, undisputed star of this show — if he has a dance partner.