Lee Groves

10: Best left hookers

3. Tommy Morrison — 1988-2008; 48-3-1 (42)

 

Billed “The Duke” for his reported familial connection to film legend John Wayne, Morrison’s left hand wasn’t a six-shooter like Wayne’s but rather a laser-guided missile. Like Mike Tyson before him, Morrison’s muscular physique camouflaged the incredible speed and pinpoint accuracy that defined his hook and those assets enabled him to leave a similarly long line of concussed forms during the “Godzilla” phase of his career. He began his career with 11 straight KOs and of the 24 knockouts that adorned his 28-0 start, 21 ended in the first two rounds.

altSeeing Morrison’s hook in action, one could almost swear the left arm had a mind and spirit of its own. It came with such stunning speed and suddenness that one couldn’t think a human being could consciously unleash it that quickly. Most of Morrison’s hooks featured a compact delivery that landed with extraordinary force. Although most of his knockout blows struck the jaw, those hooks that targeted the flanks also carried crushing power.

Morrison’s quick-trigger knockouts during his early career have long been a staple of ESPN Classic highlight compilations, particularly the 37-second wipeout of journeyman Dave Jaco. But if one Morrison hook is to be remembered above all others, it was the one he landed on Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in the sixth round of their June 1995 classic. Moments after stunning Morrison with a pair of “Smashes,” Ruddock moved in to throw a right uppercut. At that juncture Morrison sprung the trap and the effects couldn’t have been more demonstrative.

The description of the blow from “Tales From the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics” paints the picture:

Almost reflectively, Morrison unleashed a massive, pulverizing, gargantuan beauty of a counter hook that caught Ruddock on the point of the jaw. Ruddock’s body spun nearly 180 degrees as he crashed to the canvas with concussive force. His body landed spread-eagled and it appeared that not only was Ruddock knocked out, he might have been more severely injured.

With one beautifully timed punch, Morrison captured the essence of why fans love heavyweight boxing so much — there are few things in this world that can provide a bigger thrill than a pure puncher landing a Sunday shot with full force.

That Ruddock managed to rise at the count of three speaks more about his resiliency than the power of Morrison’s cannon shot. It wasn’t surprising that Ruddock would be stopped moments later.

Morrison said after the fight that the hook that floored Ruddock was a product of keen observation in the face of a massive storm. When Ruddock was delivering his right uppercut, Morrison said he was telegraphing his punches by raising his right hip. Once he timed Ruddock’s move he let the hook fly, and few hooks flew better than Tommy Morrison’s.

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