Young Victor Boxing

Hopoate faces dilemma as 'HIV-tainted' fighter throws down gauntlet

January 4, 2009
AUSTRALIA'S foremost boxing doctor has vowed to protect John Hopoate - or any other local heavyweight - from the potential risk of being exposed to the HIV virus should a proposed bout featuring former world champion Tommy Morrison take place in Melbourne later this year.

Morrison, 39, tested positive to HIV during a routine blood test in 1996. He had just signed a deal worth $US40 million to fight Mike Tyson. Morrison was subsequently stripped of his boxing licence by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Two years ago, the former World Boxing Organisation champion returned to the ring after claiming to have been wrongly diagnosed. He's since had two fights, recording technical knockouts in Mexico and West Virginia.

Former rugby league international Hopoate, the Australian heavyweight champion, is in line to fight the former champ who co-starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V because it's assumed the pay-TV sales would be a licence to print money.

However, Dr Lou Lewis, who is a consultant for the NSW Boxing Authority, said he'd demand "at the highest level" that Morrison be forced to undergo blood tests conducted by an Australian doctor and analysed by a local laboratory.

"Absolutely," Lewis said, when asked if Morrison would require mandatory tests.

"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.

"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."

Lewis said Morrison would also need to arrive weeks before the bout to ensure there was enough time to prove he was clear of the virus.

"It's true that there have been cases of false positive tests before, and it is indeed possible Morrison received a false positive," Lewis said.

"Nevertheless, we'd want to test him, and we'd also want the time to test him thoroughly."

A story on the respected SecondsOut website said Quest Diagnostics pathologist Dr John Hiatt, the physician who reviewed Morrison's original 1996 HIV results, had recently studied the archived results for Morrison, and he declared they were "unequivocal".

However, the article also cited a report in The Arizona Republic last June that Morrison had recently tested positive for HIV.

His former agent Randy Lang told the newspaper he'd ended his professional association with Morrison after the results of his HIV tests were "misrepresented".

Hopoate and fellow former rugby league player Solomon Haumono are the preferred opponents for Morrison but should they refuse the fight, The Sun-Herald understands Melbourne promoter Peter Maniatis would approach Bob Mirovic or Nathan Briggs.

In between making his comeback, Morrison has also been working on his autobiography, a reality TV show, a documentary and his acting career.

The committed Christian and father of four is also a spiritual and motivational speaker.

He will be in Australia in April as Maniatis's guest at the Bob Rose Cup at Malvern Town Hall. He will also host a black-tie dinner in Melbourne to raise funds for his HIV-AIDS charity foundation, KO AIDS.
As seen in http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/hopoate-faces-dilemma-as-hivtainted-fighter-throws-down-gauntlet/2009/01/03/1230681813244.html







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