The Turnaround

By Ted Sares on May 11, 2012
The Turnaround
Morrison summoned up some reserve deep down in his fuel tank and staggered Hipp

The fight was televised on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, but it was an afternoon show in the spring and many fans missed it…

One of my favorite types of fights is where one fighter is in dire straits and then, out of the blue, launches a punch that snatches victory from sure defeat. This rarely happens, but when it does, it’s about as thrilling as it can get. Bob Satterfield did it to Lee Oma back in the day. Later Jorge Fernando “Locomotora” Castro (130-11-93) pulled one out of the hat when he chilled John David Jackson in 1994.

The Argentinean was way behind on the scorecards. He had one eye closed and the other one about to close; he was bleeding; and he was taking nonstop and sharp combinations. On the verge of being KOd, Castro landed a left hook to Jackson’s chin and Jackson hit the floor. Jackson got up, but he was reeling and suffered two more knockdowns as Castro completed what many have argued was one of the greatest turnarounds in boxing history. It was a Ring Magazine Fight of the Year.

Iran Barkley starched Tommy Hearns the same way after being brutally beaten to the body. Renaldo Snipes and Ernie Shavers almost did the same thing to Larry Holmes, but the Easton Assassin prevented the turnarounds from happening. Of course, Arturo Gatti had two such fights. The first was a Ring Magazine candidate for Fight of the Year. In1996, he chilled Wilson Rodriquez after being dropped himself in round two and with a fast closing eye. Then, in 1997, he was savaged by Gabe Ruelas and absorbed 15 straight punches in the fourth round. He was saved by the bell. In the next stanza, Gatti knocked Ruelas out with a vicious left to score a classic and shocking turnaround win. This one was also a Ring Fight of the Year

However, my favorite turnaround occurred in June 1992 when Tommy ”The Duke” Morrison fought Joe “The Boss” Hipp at Bally’s on a hot sunny afternoon in Reno and those who were lucky enough to witness this brawl will never forget it.

Joe “The Boss” Hipp, a so-so contender and a member of the Blackfoot Tribe, was a rough, tough heavyweight out of Yakima, Washington and the type of guy you didn’t want to meet in an unfriendly bar. He was bad to the bone, but then so was The Duke.

Tommy had the punch but he was “chinny.” Joe was gritty with a granite chin at that point in his career. On a three-fight winning streak and 24-2 coming in, Hipp met “The Duke” in what promised to be a barroom brawl for as long as it lasted. As it turned out, the fight was all of that and more.

After suffering a devastating KO loss to Ray Mercer in 1991, Tommy, 32-1, was on a four-fight winning streak of his own. Both had fought Harry Terrell and both had chilled him early. Still, Morrison was the clear favorite in this crowd-pleaser.

The Action

In what was one of the most brutal wars I have ever witnessed, “The Boss” gave “The Duke” all he could handle for nine rounds. Joe was a southpaw on top of being a durable fighter, and southpaws always gave Morrison trouble. Tommy suffered a broken jaw thanks to a savage Hipp right in the second stanza. As a result, he began breathing through his mouth and was soon sucking air like a fish out of water. He also broke one hand and fractured the other one by the halfway point. To compliment these dangerous injuries, he sustained a severe cut over his right eye (it would later require 20 stitches). The bloody barroom brawl was going on in earnest.

Morrison put Hipp down in the fifth with a vicious right uppercut, straight right combination, but the durable Hipp somehow survived and got back into the fight. However, he had sustained shattered cheekbones.

It was touch and go and by the middle of the ninth, Morrison was fading rapidly. He looked spent and in pain, badly cut above one eye, and now bleeding from the mouth. His jaw was hanging dangerously wide-open and he was gassing badly. An aroused Hipp was coming on strong and the fight clearly was his if he could escalate his assault. Joe was dominating the round and Tommy looked ready to go. This was not for the fainthearted.

But then, like a bolt of lightning, the exhausted and bleeding “Duke” summoned up some reserve deep down in his fuel tank and staggered Hipp with a savage right and finished him off with a right-left-right combo that had pure menace written all over it. The final shot was a molar rattling uppercut. Hipp’s blood and sweat splattered with the force of the blows. On Queer Street, Joe was just able to get up inside the count (a testament to his fighting heart), but referee Vic Drakulich stopped the fights immediately.
Joe Hipp had put Tommy through pure hell. At the time of stoppage, judges Keith McDonald and Herb Santos had it for Morrison both by the slim margin of 76-75 while Doug Tucker had it 75-76 for the Boss. I had the Boss ahead and so did the TV announcers.

The fight was televised on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, but it was an afternoon show in the spring and many fans missed it, thus qualifying it as a true closet classic. Yet the video footage and now YouTube affirmed what those who were lucky enough to witness knew; namely, it was hardcore action that featured broken bones, blood, and plenty of guts.

It was unforgettable. It was bad to the bone.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Tommy Morrison vs. Joe Hipp 1/3

Tommy Morrison vs. Joe Hipp 2/3

Tommy Morrison vs. Joe Hipp 3/3

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  1. the thresher 06:32am, 05/13/2012

    Ward-Green was a real sleeper

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:24am, 05/13/2012

    In my opinion Ward and Gatti generated more honest to God excitement and drama in one round of fighting than others including some reigning prima donnas have in their entire careers. When I read “technical brilliance” references on this site my mind registers NASA not the fight game.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:07am, 05/13/2012

    In my opinion Ward/Green fits the bill as a classic turnaround and there was one in the making in NYC when they pulled the plug on Margo/Cotto…..but hey… the fall out was that Cotto ended up making Floyd fight for his supper…...err…$32,000,000.

  4. B Red 04:24pm, 05/12/2012

    David Matthew, “like Eryka Badu , im sensitive about my art” hahahahaha

  5. B Red 04:15pm, 05/12/2012

    great read Ted, the Gatti fight was probably the the best turnaround fight, im gonna check the Morrison Hipp fight

  6. the thresher 02:56pm, 05/12/2012

    Denis Grachev KO Ismayl Sillakh

    Micky Ward KO Alfonso Sanchez

    Classic turnarounds…

  7. the thresher 02:55pm, 05/12/2012

    Castillo-Corrales was a classic turnaround.

    Tate-Weaver was another.

    Foreman-Moorer also.

  8. Troy 02:25pm, 05/12/2012

    There aren’t many of these “brutal wars” anymore. Definitely missed!

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 12:23pm, 05/12/2012

    David Matthew-I am a fan and my posts often reflect my personal bias….and in the case of Floyd my class envy regarding his $32,000,000 purse for the Cotto bout. In my opinion the quality of journalism on this site is very high and your work meets that high standard.

  10. David Matthew 08:30am, 05/12/2012

    Irish Frankie - I must apologize.  Like Erykah Badu - “I’m sensitive about my art” lol.  I overreacted a bit and that’s my error.  I thank you for reading the piece.  I suppose what struck my nerve is that I am striving to be a more objective writer and constantly and reaching for fair-minded journalism.  I’ve learned a lot just by reading from the masters here at, and I suppose my overreaction was a reflection of my quest to become a better analyst.


  11. Dan Adams 04:33am, 05/12/2012

    Excellent article, Ted.  No shame in Tommy Morrison have such a time with a rough, tough southpaw heavy like Joe Hipp.  To paraphrase Joe Hipp: he might not have looked like much of fighter, but no one who ever fought him said that.  Thanks for the memories, Ted!

  12. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 03:49am, 05/12/2012

    I don’t knock “Duke” Morrison with having a hard time with Joe Hipp. “Indian” Joe Hipp was a tuff son-of-a-bitch when motivated. Not really top-10 material, but a solid top-20 guy of the early to middle 1990s.. If Morrison showed a weakness it was the way he struggled to TKO that Russian bastard on the undercard of “Foreman-Holyfield” of 1991… I think Tommy Morrison had underrated skills… He threw good, tight combinations with good speed and accuracy, but his skin and chin were so-so… WORD!

  13. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:52pm, 05/11/2012

    David Matthew-Just read your great report on the fight…..wait for it… my passive-aggressive opinion you not only didn’t swoon, but you didn’t gush either when you described Floyd’s combo in the final round as “scintillating”.

  14. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 05:44pm, 05/11/2012

    David Matthew- Sorry if I offended you by my use of the term “swoon”. I fell behind in my reading so I’m not sure I’ve read your more recent articles. When I catch up on my reading, including your consistently fine work, and I get the sense that you too have indeed swooned, I vow to be man enough to be direct and not hide behind cryptical language.

  15. raxman 05:23pm, 05/11/2012

    ted - me too re carl the cat. it amazes he isnt better remembered,. i accepted at the time that he and the cruiserweight class were underappreciated, but i had thought by now that he would remembered more fondly, and more often.

  16. the thresher 04:38pm, 05/11/2012

    Carl Thompson was one of my all-time favorite fighters. He was indeed a turnaround type as David Haye found out.

    Chico’s win over Castillo was another classic turnaround.

  17. the thresher 04:35pm, 05/11/2012

    I think Tommy proved how good he could be when he fought and won avery focused fight against Foreman. Tommy was a very exciting guy and was a champion.

  18. David Matthew 03:48pm, 05/11/2012

    lol @ ‘swoons’ - enough of the passive-aggressive stuff from people.  I see hints dropped everywhere.  If people have something to say about writers or specific articles - they should at least be man enough to be direct and not hide behind cryptical language.

  19. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 03:18pm, 05/11/2012

    Ted Sares-Great article for some on this site to read after they recover from their swoons over Mayweather actually fighting for his $32,000,000.

  20. David Matthew 01:58pm, 05/11/2012

    awesome stuff.

  21. FrankinDallas 01:57pm, 05/11/2012

    I recall this fight….I figured if Morrison had a hard time with Hipp, then he wasn’t really a top 10 boxer. No disrespect, and it was a great bout.

  22. raxman 01:27pm, 05/11/2012

    the best turnaround fighter i can think of was Carl the Cat Thompson. i think Ted may have written some on the Cat - the dude had more lives than a cat. one of my most hated “wrong” calls by a ref was when he stopped The Cat during his fight with Johnny Nelson. if ever a fighter deserved a fight to play out without ref interference it was thompson. his best turnaround was the one punch knockout of Sebastin Rothman

  23. pugknows 12:59pm, 05/11/2012


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