Tommy "The Duke" Morrison was a Kansas City superstar in the 1990’s. He was the World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion. He starred in Rocky V alongside Sylvester Stallone, playing the part of Tommy Gunn.
But having died in 2013 at age 44, his name and memory now lives on in the form of red letters stitched onto the waistband of a pair of boxing shorts.
Those shorts are worn by a man that strongly resembles the legendary boxer, from the same fighting stance to the blonde hair on his head.
"My whole following is because of my dad, I understand that, no doubt. Without him, I wouldn't be who I was, or who I am now,” said Trey Lippe-Morrison, the 28-year-old son of Tommy Morrison.
Lippe-Morrison grew up sheltered from the fame and publicity that his father garnered, simply going by the name of Trey Lippe. But readopting his father’s name and starting his boxing career with a 14-0 record in four years, Lippe-Morrison is starting to pull in the sort of fame and publicity that his father earned more than 20 years ago.
The similarities are eery. Lippe-Morrison stands 6 feet 2, just like his father. His 74.5-inch reach is just 1.5 inches shorter. His weight of 221.5 pounds is about 5 pounds lighter than his father’s during his WBO championship victory against George Foreman in 1993.
But despite all that, Lippe-Morrison is ready to become his own man.
“I want to be my own fighter. I want to develop stuff for myself, be myself,” Lippe-Morrison said. “But I understand that people are always going to compare me to him.”
The journey to becoming his own man continues on Saturday evening, when he fights on the undercard of the Gilberto Ramirez vs. Roamer Alexis-Angulo super middleweight championship fight in Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Facing off against 38-year-old journeyman Byron Polley of St. Joseph, Lippe-Morrison is looking to not only advance his record to 15-0, but keep alive the streak of 14 straight victories by either knockout or technical knockout.
Training with new trainer Craig Blacklock in Tulsa, Okla., it’s the first time Lippe-Morrison will be fighting in his home state since a second-round technical knockout victory against Ty Cobb in December 2016.
"It's been great, you know,” Lippe-Morrison said. “Craig's always been in my corner, he's been my cutman in everything, and he's a trainer too, he knows boxing. It's been great working with him.”
Fighting at the heavyweight class despite being just 6-2, Lippe-Morrison has been working heavily on his legs and footwork in the past couple of months, working his way past being a ‘smaller’ boxer for his weight class.
Quick footwork and strong legs will allow Lippe-Morrison to get inside taller boxers with longer reaches than his own, allowing him to get in plenty of body shots. It’s a fighting style that, if done effectively, will look similar to that of Mike Tyson.
"I'm feeling good, really good,” Lippe-Morrison said on Friday afternoon. “Legs are strong, legs are feeling better than they've ever felt, and that's really what we focused on this camp. Put in work, and I'm feeling great."
At just 28, Lippe-Morrison has time on his side too. He’s fought mostly in Oklahoma during his four-year career, with just two of his 14 fights coming outside of the state. But as his reputation grows, he’s not ruling out returning to the city that his father called home.
"I haven't been to Kansas City in a while. It's been a while, but we plan on coming there sometime, you know. I would love to fight in the area that my dad came from,” Lippe-Morrison said. “When I get there, I want to be ready for it, I want to excite you all. I want to put on a good show. I don't want to come in there and be like 'ahh man,' I really want to be ready for it, excite you all, bring the type of level he brought."
The undercard of the Gilberto Ramirez vs. Roamer Alexis-Angulo bout will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday evening, streaming on ESPN+.