So early Saturday morning, with Dawn’s comment/warning ringing in my head, I drove from Fayetteville to XNA to meet Tommy and his friend Steve for our flight to Vegas. On the flight out we quickly decided that we needed to formulate a plan to bring some positive publicity to Tommy. After all, he was still facing an upcoming trial on the felony gun and drug charges, and the general public had seen nothing but bad stories on him in recent months, i.e., DWI arrest after DWI arrest after DWI arrest.

I said, “Tommy, we are sitting ringside. You know you will be interviewed, be thinking about what you’re going to say. Keep it positive. We need a positive message.” Tommy said, “Okay, I’ll promote my Knockout Aids Foundation. Maybe we can raise a bunch of money for that cause.” “Great idea!,” I said. Steve said, “Hey, I’m pretty good at setting up websites. How about I set up a website named ‘Tommy’ and when you’re interviewed you can tell everyone to go to your website and make a donation to your Knockout Aids Foundation.” “Great idea!,” I said. “Hey, I’ve got an idea,” I said. “Let’s get some t-shirts printed up when we get there that say ‘Tommy’. You can wear one underneath your sports coat, and when you’re being interviewed, you can pull your sports coat open and everyone will see ‘Tommy’ We’ll get thousands of clicks and there’s no telling how much money we can raise for your foundation!” Tommy said, “Alright, I’m down with that. Great idea Rusty!”

We landed in Vegas and took a limo to Bally’s. On the ride there Tommy called Sylvester Stallone. “This is Tommy Morrison. Is Sly there?” The person who answered said Sly wasn’t available and offered to take a message. Tommy said, “Tell him I’m in town for the big fight tonight and I’d love to get together for a bit if he’s got the time.” The person on the other end assured Tommy that he’d relay the message to Sly. “How cool is this, might get to meet Sylvester Stallone,” I thought. Oh what a day this is going to be!

As we were checking in to Bally’s, Tommy realized he’d left his phone in the limo. Steve offered to call the limo service and track down Tommy’s phone. That took a while, so Tommy and I decided to go play some blackjack. He won like 6 or 7 straight hands at a hundred dollars or more per hand, with a couple of blackjacks thrown in. This would make most people’s day, bring smiles and laughter, and maybe some high-fives, right? But not Tommy. Not on this day. It didn’t seem to bring him even the least bit of joy. Watching him at that moment reminded me that I was with a man who had the weight of the world on his shoulders. It was sad, really. And there I was having the time of my life. I felt guilty.

We checked into our rooms. Pretty soon, I went over to Tommy’s room. He and Steve were just hanging out, watching a little college football. It was about noon Vegas time and the fight didn’t start until like 9 p.m., so we had some time to kill. Over the next 2-3 hours, I’d estimate Tommy spent an hour to an hour and a half in the bathroom. Finally I said to Steve, “What’s he doing in there?” Steve said, “Rusty I hate to tell you this but he has a large amount of methamphetamine in there.” Holy crap, I thought. Uh oh, I think I now know what Dawn meant.

When Tommy wasn’t in the bathroom he told us some good war stories. Like about the time he put Razor Rudduck “to sleep.” And the time he knocked out Pinklon Thomas. And on and on. He could tell some great stories. But his speech was beginning to get slurred. And I noticed prescription drug bottles scattered about the counter surrounding his bathroom sink.

Around 2:00 I noticed Steve on the phone. He seemed to be getting the runaround from the ticket office about the location of our tickets. He hung up then called another person, then another. No one seemed to know where our tickets were. Finally I said I’d just take a cab to the Thomas and Mack Assembly Center and get them myself. Tommy gave me his ID (I’m pretty sure it was a fake), and I headed out the door. On my way out, I noticed an ESPN highlight of Clint Stoerner hitting Anthony Lucas for the game winning touchdown, allowing my Hogs to avenge that awful defeat from the previous year at the hands of Tennessee. And they showed the fans tearing down the goalposts in jubilation. And here I was in Vegas beginning to wonder if I was even going to actually make it to the fight. Hmm, “Welome to Tommy’s world,” she’d said.

I arrived at the will call window of the Thomas and Mack Assembly Center. The lady behind the window said, “I’ve got good news and bad news.” “Give me the good news,” I said. She said, “The good news is I’ve found your tickets.” “Great,” I said. “What’s the bad news?” She said,”Your tickets aren’t here. They’re at the Las Vegas Hilton.” I said, “Okay, exactly where at the Las Vegas Hilton?” She said, “They are in Don King’s suite.” I kid you not. The Don King.

So I headed over to Don King’s suite with what I was pretty sure was Tommy Morrison’s fake I.D. Don King’s suite was on the 6th floor, at the end of a long velvety red carpeted floor. I did not know what to expect when I entered that room. In a best case scenario, Don King himself would hand me the tickets. That did not happen. Mr. King was not even in the suite, best I could tell. There were like 6 tall black men, in black suits, and black shades, behind a long fold out table. It went pretty well though. They didn’t give me any trouble about Tommy’s shaky I.D., and they gave me the tickets. “Yes!,” I thought.

So with a great sense of relief and excitement I headed back to Bally’s to give Tommy and Steve the great news about the tickets. But instead of being met with excitement and joy, my news about the tickets was met by Tommy with about the same demeanor he’d displayed earlier at the blackjack table. Only worse. He seemed a little agitated now, and his slurring was considerably worse than it had been just an hour ago. I began to get the distinct feeling that Tommy was not at all excited about the prospect of being ringside, in front of the cameras, and having a microphone shoved in his face by some eager beaver tv reporter. Man I hoped I was wrong about that gut feeling because I was more than a little excited about seeing Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield go toe to toe for the heavyweight championship of the world.

(Note: I have to stop here for a while. I’ll return soon with Part 3).

Thanks for reading.


Rusty Hudson