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PRESS BOX: Former champ Morrison dies

The SportsXchange

Former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison died in an Omaha, Neb., hospital Sunday night at the age of 44.

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Morrison, who beat George Foreman in 1993 to claim the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title, also gained fame for his role opposite Sylvester Stallone in the movie "Rocky V."

He tested positive for HIV in 1996 before a fight with Arthur Weathers. Morrison said the following week that he had contracted the virus due to a "permissive, fast, and reckless lifestyle," but later insisted the diagnosis was a false positive and even challenged the existence of the virus.

Nicknamed "The Duke" on disputed claims that he was the grandnephew of John Wayne, Morrison was born in on Jan. 2, 1969, in Gravette, Ark. He grew up in Oklahoma.

Born to a family of boxers, he began fighting at the age of 10 and entered fights at the age of 13 by using a fake ID.

He earned his first title bout in 1991, suffering his first professional defeat by fifth-round knockout to undefeated Ray Mercer. Morrison bounced back to win six consecutive fights in 1992 and two more in 1993, earning another shot at the heavyweight title with a knockout of Carl "The Truth" Williams.

That set up Morrison's bout with Foreman in Las Vegas on June 7, 1993. Morrison avoided trading big blows with Foreman, who was staging a comeback, and scored a unanimous decision in a 12-round fight with the WBO champion.

Morrison was scheduled to fight Weathers on Feb. 10, 1996, in Las Vegas when the positive HIV test was discovered less than an hour before the bout. The fight was immediately postponed without a reason being given at the time.

The New York Times reported Morrison tested negative for HIV three times in 2007, including one specifically for the newspaper. Three experts reviewed the case and concluded the 1996 result had indeed been the result of a false positive, although ringside doctors said the negative results were not based on Morrison's blood.

Morrison retired from the ring with a career record of 48-3-1 with 42 knockouts.

NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday that they agreed to terms with goaltender Corey Crawford on a six-year contract extension.

Crawford is signed through the 2019-20 season.

Crawford, 28, went 16-7 with one shutout, a league-best 1.84 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in 23 postseason games in helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last season.

In 30 regular-season games, he was 19-5-5 with three shutouts, a 1.94 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

SWIMMING

Diana Nyad on Monday became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

Nyad, 64, was met by cheering swimmers, boaters and paddlers off the coast of Key West as she completed the record-setting swim. She paused from her 50-hour swim just before reaching the finish to address the crowd waiting for her.

"I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean," Nyad said, treading water. "This is a lifelong dream of mine and I'm very, very glad to be with you. Some on the team are the most intimate friends of my life and some of you I've just met. But I'll tell you something, you're a special group. You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart. So let's get going so we can have a whopping party."

Her team included five boats carrying her support members. Nyad tried four other times to complete the 112-mile swim in 1978, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

She wore a custom-made mask this time to help protect her face from box jellyfish, a stinging jellyfish that thwarted her last attempt in 2012 because of burns on her limbs and face.
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