The resemblance is uncanny.
From his muscular build to signature, blonde mullet, it's nearly impossible to see Kenzie Morrison and not remember his father, Tommy “The Duke” Morrison.
Being the son of a former World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion comes with some obvious advantages in terms of marketing and genetics. But it also brings its share of added pressure.
Kenzie Morrison, a 27-year-old heavyweight with a record of 13-0-2 and 11 knockouts, is scheduled to headline a fight card on May 26 at T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kan.
It will be his first bout in his late father’s hometown.
Kenzie Morrison, who started boxing professionally in 2014 and changed his name legally from Witt to Morrison the following year, expects that some fans in attendance will be hoping to see a replica of his father. Tommy Morrison beat George Foreman for the WBO heavyweight title in 1993 and finished his career with a record of 48-3-1. Tommy Morrison, Sylvester Stallone’s co-star in “Rocky V,” was a wild-living sensation in Kansas City during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In June 1995, the elder Morrison earned a sixth-round technical-knockout victory over Donovan “Razor” Ruddock at Municipal Auditorium. That was his eighth and final fight in Kansas City.
“My dad left me the legacy, but I’m just trying to do the best I can do,” Kenzie said. “I’m not trying to fill his shoes or anything like that. I just want to make it in the sport of boxing. I try to tell people that I’m not trying to emulate my dad other than his hard will for fighting. I’m just trying to be my own person and make my own way with the legacy that he left me.”
Morrison is set to meet Galen Brown, from St. Joseph, Mo., in a six-round heavyweight bout. While Brown (44-39-1) enters with six consecutive losses, he will be the most experienced foe of Morrison's young career. None of his previous opponents had logged more than 17 pro fights.
The bout is the beginning of an accelerated effort to move up Morrison in the heavyweight rankings. He's currently rated the No. 34 heavyweight in the United States, 143rd in the world, by BoxRec.com.
“It’s full-steam ahead," Morrison said. "We’re working on getting in the best shape we can. We only want to take fights that will progress us up in the rankings.
“I’m at the point now where I need to start getting in there and mixing it up with the best. I’ve taken it slow up until this point, because I’ve been trying to learn. I think it’s got the point now where I’ve done it enough to where I need to start training for the harder fights, and that’s our plan.”
A standout basketball player at Colcord (Okla.) High School, Morrison said he didn’t really consider taking up boxing until he started working in the gym with his father as a young adult.
“He told me that I could do it, and that meant a lot,” he said.
Tommy Morrison, who retired from boxing in 1996 after announcing that he had tested positive for HIV, died in September 2013 at the age of 44.
Kenzie Morrison and his half-brother, Trey Lippe-Morrison, both turned pro the year after their father’s death.
Lippe-Morrison (14-0, 14 KOs), who is rated as the No. 13 heavyweight in the United States and 49th in the world, again by BoxRec.com, is more reminiscent of his father in terms of power. Lippe-Morrison has ended nine of his 14 pro fights, including a win on Showtime over previously undefeated Ed Latimore, in the first round.
Kenzie Morrison, meanwhile, uses his athleticism and agility to win in a variety of ways.
Tony Holden, who was Tommy Morrison’s promoter, said both sons have ample potential.
“Kenzie has a great style,” said Holden, who has promoted the majority of Kenzie Morrison’s pro fights but isn’t involved with the May 26 bout. “He has a totally different style than Trey. He’s got a long jab. He fights like an Ali. Trey fights like a Mack Truck. Trey and Kenzie both have a very natural ability. They’re both fast learners.”
Without any amateur experience, both fighters have already experienced their share of bumps in the road. Lippe-Morrison suffered a knockdown 10 seconds into his pro career, and Kenzie Morrison has been taken the distance four times, including two that ended in draws.
Last year, Morrison avenged a previous draw with Aaron Chavers, ending the rematch in the second round.
Kevin Lightburn, who trains Morrison in Springdale, Ark., said the boxing prospect is learning to be a consistent fighter and has the potential to be in the mix as a heavyweight-title contender in two years.
“Kenzie’s best attribute is that he’s a tremendous athlete,” Lightburn said. “He’s strong. He’s got great reaction. He has everything you need to be a great athlete. We just have to put the right knowledge behind that. We’re just taking all of that athletic ability and focusing it."
For his first fight in Kansas City, Morrison knows that maintaining his focus will be especially important.
“There is a lot of pressure. There’s always a lot of pressure when you’re fighting and haven’t lost yet," he said. "This, in particular, will be a little overblown … I’m just going to treat this like another outing and go out there and try to take care of business. Hopefully, the pressure isn’t extreme.”
Kenzie plans to wear red, white and blue trunks as a tribute to his father.
“I always want to honor him," he said. "He’s a big part of this for me. I wouldn’t possibly be doing this if it I wasn’t his son and he didn’t tell me that I had the ability to do it. It’s always a big honor for me to represent my dad’s name.”
The fight card, which is being promoted by Carden Combat Sports, is expected to feature eight boxing matches and eight mixed-martial arts fights.