Marcus Morrison

When a boxer turns professional they dream of the big lights, huge shows to display their talents and the guidance of world renowned coaches.  For many that aspiration never comes to fruition, for very few it will and typically after years of grind and toil.  For 23 year old Marcus Morrison though he has truly landed on his feet.  A link-up with Ring Magazine Trainer of the Year Joe Gallagher and a home at the UK’s premier promotional stable, Matchroom, means that the latent potential of the young middleweight has been given the perfect environment to grow.

It hasn’t been given on a plate to Morrison, the young man has earnt it.  Making his debut in September 2014 he signed with the Eddie Hearn run Matchroom in June 2015, at which point he had a flawless record of five victories with four stoppages.  Since then he has amassed six more to bring up an impressive record off 11-0 with eight knockouts and in the process picked up his first title, a WBC International Silver belt.  His debut happened on the big stage, the undercard to a night headlined by fights involving both Scott Quigg and Anthony Crolla, but then he took the more chartered route for a new fighter of going down the small hall route.  It wasn’t long though before he was back showing off his skillset in front of large numbers, his fifth bout taking place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.  So how is it for such a young and talented boxer to have such a wealth of opportunities?

“I feel very, very lucky and privileged” he says in his broad Mancunian accent.  “Promotion wise I'm in the best place with the support of Matchroom who have given me an opportunity to win my first title live on Sky Sports. There's no better platform to showcase my skills on and it was nice at the weekend to get the early stoppage in front of thousands tuning in. I couldn't be in a better place and I'm lucky to be in the position that I'm in.”

Morrison is well spoken and articulate, eloquent for a boxer.  The fight he is talking about from the weekend saw him make easy work of Jefferson Luis De Souza, a Brazilian who had previously only lost one bout.  Morrison dispatched him in two rounds while picking up his WBC trinket.  The belt isn’t his long term ambition but as he tells me, it is a building block as he aims for higher achievements.  “I want to go down the traditional route. It's nice to pick up the WBC international silver belt and when my career is at its pinnacle I want to be able to look back on these early titles that I won. I definitely want to pick up an English and a British belt and when I've picked up those titles I'm sure I'll be ready to move onto bigger things.”

Morrison plans to keep busy.  Already he has is averaging a fight every two months and there is one lined up for June 18th on a James Lindermann show in Manchester, a six rounder that allows him to keep busy.  Before that though it’s time for a break, when we speak he is in the airport departure lounge getting ready for a rest.  “I’m off to Dubai for a week” he says over the clatter of suitcases and terminal announcements.  “I'm still buzzing from Saturday but it's nice to get a break and forget about boxing for a week or so then I'll be back next week knuckling down again. I land on the Wednesday and I'll be back in the gym Thursday then it's only four weeks until I'm back fighting again.”

One week in the sunshine will do him well.  His fight Saturday was part of a show which saw Anthony Crolla retain his WBA lightweight title against the odds on a night that emotionally drained a city as they followed their man through the trenches.  Morrison did his part on the undercard to support stablemate Crolla.  “It was really good. It's nice to pick up my first title and everything felt the same when I got in there. You get in there to do a job and it was job done.  It's nice to get a ranking with the WBC already. It's not unbelievably high but I'm still ranked. There's no rush for me and Joe doesn't want to rush anything. I'm happy with the decision that we take our time, keep learning and winning fights then I'm sure doors will open. When they do I'll be more than ready to go down the route which is best for me. I'm only 23 so there's loads of time for progression before I think too much about titles and routes.”
I ask him how far he believes he is from achieving domestic titles and he is reticent to commit to timeframes.  He does however believe that in 18 months he and his team can start to consider looking at the historic British title, a belt presently held by Chris Eubank Jr.  By that point he will be approaching 25, an age where boxers supposedly develop their ‘man strength’ – however given his already impressive knockout record, is this something that Morrison feels he is still waiting to arrive?  “I genuinely don't believe I have my man strength yet. I'm only 23. My record suggests I can punch a little bit but I still don't feel I've developed into my full potential. I do believe within 18 months to two or three years you will see me become a man; thick set and punching hard. That man strength will come.”

It is a scary proposition.  If at 23 he is knocking out the wide majority of opponents, albeit sometimes of a limited ability yet designed to last rounds, he could become a fighter that others in the division steer clear of.  Is that a concern to him?  “If I pick up titles along the way which I'm intending to do then I hope I won't be avoided and the fights I'll want I get” says Morrison.

In the meantime Morrison is being nurtured under the guidance of Joe Gallagher, a man who has developed a reputation as one of the elite trainers globally.  The list of accolades within his gym is an inspiration to any fighter walking through the door; world champions in multiple weight categories, British champions and exciting prospects on the rise.  How is it for an upcoming fighter like Morrison to be embedded into an elite training centre?  “I do honestly believe the gym is one of the best in the world, not just the UK. Especially for me, I've got the likes of Callum Smith, Liam Smith, Paul Smith, Hosea Burton that I can do rounds with. I've got great talent around me which  helps me absorb and learn all the time, I couldn't be in a better place. The gyms buzzing all the time, there's always big fights coming up or something going on and it's nice to be around.”

The other advantage that Morrison has is that he is backed by sponsors that have supported him in his career, meaning that he is able to focus entirely on the hard training requirements without the outside distractions.  “I’m lucky enough to have Intense Menswear and Sterling finished behind me” says Morrison.  “Without sponsors like that it makes the sport so much harder. The job is easier when I can concentrate on getting the job done and working towards what I can achieve. Thanks to the sponsors and Matchroom putting me on big shows I'm able to train full time without having to work. A lot of fighters do that and I'm not sure I could reach the full potential I believe I can if I did have to do that.”

The cards are stacked in Morrison’s favour.  Elite platform to display his talent, elite training centre to hone his skills and a large support out of his hometown.  He has so far shown that he is determined enough to make the most of the opportunities he has earnt.  Nothing is given in the life of a boxer and for Morrison he is intent on carrying on taking the chances that are presented to him.  Although the rush may be minimal, the potential is huge.