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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Darrin Morris
Posted on September 9, 2016                                             Bookmark and Share
By: Clive Baum.


FEATURE   Photo: Former World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Middleweight Champion Darrin "The Mongoose" Morris.

Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.


The story of former WBF World Middleweight Champion Darrin “The Mongoose” Morris is, as is often the case with boxers, one of great highs and great lows. He accomplished a lot in his career, but ultimately his story had a very sad ending.

Morris was born in 1966 in Detroit, and became a professional boxer twenty years later when he made his paid debut as a Welterweight with a points win over one William Reid (1-10) in December of 1986. Just over a month later he returned with a first-round stoppage of debutant Juan Benitez in Atlantic City.

In March of 1997 he fought to a draw with another debutant called George Greenhow, but he won his next seven bouts convincingly to line up a big test against Texas State Champion Derwin Richards (16-6-2) on October 26, 1988, less than 30 miles from his home-town, at the Thomas Crystal Gardens in Mount Clemens, Michigan.

Co-headlining the card with future IBF World Featherweight Champion Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson, and with a certain unknown-at-the-time Middleweight named James Toney making his debut on the undercard, Morris entered the fight full of confidence. But he was quickly brought back down to earth when he was floored in the first round.

After recovering from the initial shock of finding himself on the canvas, Morris proved that he had it inside himself to make it far as a boxer. He found his focus, and gradually fought his way back into the fight. It was one of those encounters that could go either way, but after ten rounds Morris was awarded a split decision victory.

Looking to take the next step towards the top, Morris and his team decided to take a fight with highly experienced Rafael Williams (29-5) as part of a big show at the Felt Forum in New York on July 27, 1989. With a lay-off of nine months since the Richards-victory, this was a risky and tough task for Morris.

Among the only six people who had managed to defeat Williams were big names such as Livingstone Bramble, Hector Camacho and Pernell Whitaker, and the 28-year-old Panamanian had won several regional titles during his nine years in the pro game.

It was simply too soon for Morris, a 10-0-1 rookie at the time, and while he acquitted himself well he lost a unanimous decision after eight rounds. Williams went on to fight many other big names, beating the likes of Charles Brewer and Joe Gatti (brother of Arturo), and challenge for WBF and IBO world titles.

Following his first defeat, a relationship with a promoter in Finland, of all places, was established, and in February of 1990 Morris fought in the Nordic country for the first time, beating undefeated local prospect Hannu Vuorinen (5-0-1) on points. He would later return to fight in Finland four more times.

After the nice victory in Europe, it was quickly sink-or-swim-time again. Having relocated to West Palm Beach, Florida and linked up with legendary trainer Angelo Dundee in Miami, Morris was booked to fight in the main event of a show at Deco´s Night Club in Miami a month after returning from overseas.

The opponent was Dominican champion, and former IBF world title-challenger, Reyes Antonio Cruz (40-4-1, without a doubt the best opponent Morris had been matched against at the time. Even better than Rafael Williams, who had defeated him less than a year earlier.

Having only lost decisions to Gary Hinton (for the world title), former world champion Saoul Mamby, former and future world champion Hector Camacho, whom he even knocked down, and 36-2 top-contender Mauricio Rodriguez, Cruz had plenty of ambition left and was on a mission to secure a second crack at world honors.

But young Darrin Morris was on top of his game on that warm Florida evening, and stunned the crowd when he totally dominated his more accomplished foe, scoring three knock-downs on the way to a very impressive fourth round stoppage victory.

Now 12-1-1, and basking in the glory of his best victory by far, Morris was eager to build on his momentum. The following March he took on Kevin Pompey (18-3-1), also known as “Mr. Excitement”, in Albany, New York for the lightly regarded IBC Welterweight crown.


And unfortunately it was again back down to earth for Morris, after flying high, as Pompey won by unanimous decision after twelve competitive rounds. Pompey being true world class there was no shame in the defeat, in fact one judge only had a difference of two points, and it would actually be the last time Morris ever lost a fight in the ring.

He rebounded in November of 1990, back in Finland, with a points-win over future Russian national champion Mikhail Shirin (2-0-2), and returned to Florida hoping he would soon get an opportunity to shine in a major fight. It took some time, but the opportunity came.

With the vacant WBF Middleweight World championship at stake, Morris was pitted against tough New Jersey contender Ron Amundsen (20-5-1), who just four months earlier had lost a decision to Italian Gianfranco Rossi for the IBF World Super Welterweight title.

The four additional blemishes on Amundsen´s record had come against world champions-to-be Dave Hilton (L10), Roy Jones Jr. (TKO7) and James Toney (L10), and former and future champion Vinny Pazienza (L12), so he was considered a very live horse in the race against Morris on July 29, 1991 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

In the same venue where Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston in 1964, and with Ali watching from ringside along with fellow Heavyweight-notables George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Pinklon Thomas and Earnie Shavers, Morris put on a wonderful performance, repeatedly beating Amundsen to the punch en-route to a unanimous decision.

Winning the WBF World Middleweight title in convincing fashion, despite in reality still being only a Super Welterweight, was a testament that Morris had not been hurt by the loss to Kevin Pompey. Some would even say it made him a better fighter, and his future looked bright.

His first title-defense was eventually scheduled for March 2, 1992 in Helsinki, Finland against dangerous New York-based Puerto Rican Jorge Maysonet (22-9), who had won all his twenty-two victories by stoppage, and had challenged Simon Brown for the IBF World Welterweight championship in 1989.

It is safe to say that, at this point, Maysonet had seen better days in the ring, but he was still a risky proposition for Morris, who was still not a real Middleweight. But he handled the challenge as a true champion, taking control of the fight and eventually stopping Maysonet in the tenth round.

Morris decided to vacate his Middleweight world championship and concentrate on winning a second title at Super Welterweight, and six months after the Maysonet fight he was back in Helsinki to take on Russian Southpaw Akhmet Dottuev (4-0-1) in a non-title ten-rounder.

Morris beat the inexperienced Dottuev on points, and it would later prove to be a good victory. The Russian would not lose again until challenging Julio Cesar Vasquez for the WBA World title in 1994, and in years to come he was considered a tough-to-beat contender.

Back in the USA, Morris beat Jeff Johnson (16-4-1) in July of 1993, and continued to build on his credibility as a Super Welterweight contender when he stopped John Wesley Meekins (24-3-2) in eleven rounds the following October. Meekins had challenged Meldrick Taylor for the IBF World Light Welterweight crown in 1989.

After an easy second-round blow-out of journeyman Joe Harris (5-9) in Nassau, Bahamas in May 1994, Morris traveled to Quebec, Canada to take on undefeated local hope Stephane Ouellet (13-0) for the vacant IBC Super Welterweight belt.

Morris stopped Ouellet in six rounds, and appeared to be well on his way back to the very top in a second weight class. But despite six more victories, including a fourth round stoppage of former WBF World Champion Tommy Small (32-10), it was never to be.

Personal problems, including a career-threatening eye injury, put a halt to the progress of Morris´ career, and after a low profile KO1 victory over Elwood Barlett (4-4) in September 1997, it would be almost two years before he returned to the ring.

In July 1999 Morris headlined a show at the National Guard Armory in West Palm Beach, as a Super Middleweight, stopping David McCluskey (17-59-5) in round three. This would turn out to be the last fight for Morris in the ring, his final record standing at 28-2-1 (17).

But it would not be his last fight outside the ring. Morris was diagnosed with HIV not long after the McCluskey fight, and was in a fight for his life. Sadly, this was a fight he tragically lost and on October 17 2000 he died of HIV-related meningitis. He was only 34 years of age.

As an almost comic side-note, if something comic can be taken from such a sad turn of events, Morris would make headlines after his death, when a story broke that the World Boxing Organization (WBO) had him not only ranked, but also improving in their rankings, long after he had passed away.

  Part 32: Suwito Lagola
  Part 31: Aaron Zarate
  Part 30: Tommy Small
  Part 29: Matthew Charleston
  Part 28: Jane Couch
  Part 27: Fahlan Sakkreerin
  Part 26: Kenny Keene
  Part 25: Yvan Mendy
  Part 24: Ronnie Magramo
  Part 23: Randall Yonker
  Part 22: Holly Holm
  Part 21: Vinnie Curto
  Part 20: Robin Reid
  Part 19: Lionel Butler
  Part 18: Mads Larsen
  Part 17: Ken Sigurani
  Part 16: Orlando Fernandez
  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson

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