By Arne K. Lang
The longtime SHOWTIME series “ShoBox: The New Generation,” now in its 16th season, returns to the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, this Friday, Sept. 23. There are two 10-rounders, an 8-rounder, and a 6-rounder on the TV portion of the card and the 6-rounder is the most captivating of the lot. It isn’t just that Trey Lippe and Ed Latimore compete in the sport’s glamour division, although that helps, but these two undefeated heavyweights have fascinating back stories.
Trey Lippe, aka Trey Lippe Morrison, bears a strong resemblance to his late father Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, a heavyweight titlist in an era when the division was very strong. Tommy Morrison, who died three years ago at age 44, had a fearsome left hook and was a good enough boxer to outpoint ageless George Foreman across 12 rounds. It’s too early to tell if Trey can achieve the heights of his father (that’s asking a lot), but he’s off to a strong start. He has won all 11 of his pro fights by knockout, eight in the opening round.
Pittsburgh has produced some great fighters. Harry Greb, Charley Burley, and Billy Conn come quickly to mind. Ed Latimore (13-0, 7 KOs), who has become quite knowledgeable about Pittsburgh’s fistic heritage, hopes to someday etch his name on that list. If he can keep winning, we will be reading a lot more about him because he’s good copy. Latimore (pictured) just may be the most cerebral, most introspective, and most goal-oriented heavyweight to come down the pike since Gene Tunney.
The 31-year-old Latimore, born and bred in the Steel City, is 17 units shy of his degree at Duquesne University where he has a dual major in physics and electrical engineering. In an era when athletes in college are associated with soft majors, Latimore chose the hard route, selecting two of the most rigorous fields of study for a college student.
If he seems to be moving forward in baby steps, that’s understandable. Latimore interrupted his schooling to serve in the Army National Guard where he was schooled as a land combat electrical missile system repairer and now finds boxing, at least for the moment, a larger priority in his life, an offshoot of signing with Throne Boxing, a subsidiary of Roc Nation Sports, which promotes Andre Ward, among others.
Reportedly a world class chess player, Latimore has a large platform on social media where he blogs about topics of interest to him, sometimes dispensing advice on interpersonal relationships in the fashion of a “Dear Abby,” albeit always from the alpha male’s perspective. He has a special woman in his life and credits a “solid relationship” with being the “keystone” without which one’s goals will be difficult to attain.
On his twitter feeds, Latimore is partial to pithy sayings in the self-improvement genre. Here are two examples:
“Whoever is trying to bring you down is already beneath you.”
“Money doesn’t buy happiness BUT it does provide insurance against a lot of (stuff) that makes you sad.”
Latimore once wrote “I have, at best, an average aptitude for boxing,” an odd statement coming from a professional boxer. “My coach (Tom Yankello) yells at me sometimes for over-thinking, instead of going with the feel of it,” he told The Sweet Science. Perhaps it could not be otherwise for a man with an affinity for chess.
As for what will happen Friday night when he locks horns with Trey Lippe, we don’t have a clue and that’s what makes the bout so compelling. It wouldn’t shock us if it’s a rousing skirmish and it wouldn’t shock us if it’s one-sided.
As an amateur, Ed Latimore won a Pennsylvania Golden Gloves title and a national PAL title and copped decisions over such notables as Dominic Breazeale and Charles Martin during a period when he was hunkered down in Southern California. Trey Lippe, five years younger than Latimore at age 26, has had no amateur experience whatsoever. However, he has been playing catch-up at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym and there is no better school for a fledgling.
Latimore will be in hostile territory. Trep Lippe, an Oklahoman, will be making his 11th appearance at the Buffalo Run Casino, but his first since Jan. 23, having been sidelined with a broken hand.
If the Latimore-Lippe match fails to produce fireworks, other bouts on the card will almost assuredly fill the void. Knockout artists Ivan Baranchyk (11-0, 10 KOs) and Ivan Golub (12-0, 10 KOs) appear in separate bouts. The main go, a light heavyweight contest between Travis Peterkin and “Hot Rod” Kalajdzic, has the look of a competitive and spirited affair. The eight fighters in the TV bouts have a combined record of 114-3-1.
And for those inside the arena who get to sample the appetizers, James McKenzie Morrison will display his wares in a 6-round contest. The half-brother of Trey Lippe, James McKenzie Morrison (9-0-1, 8 KOs) bears an even more striking resemblance to his father.
Wouldn’t it be fun if Trey Lippe and his brother go on to have careers akin to the Klitschko brothers, sparking an endless debate about which brother was better when he was at his peak? But that’s putting the cart way, way, way ahead of the horse and Ed Latimore aims to abort that discussion before it ever gets started.
“ShoBox:The New Generation” airs on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed in the Pacific Time Zone).