The fight was a matchup between two undefeated, up-and-coming heavyweights. Thirty-year-old 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist Ray Mercer had won all 17 of his previous fights since turning pro in 1989 and was coming off a victory over Francesco Damiani that made him the WBO Heavyweight Champion, though the WBO title did not carry as much prestige as the WBA, WBC and IBF versions of the title. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Tommy Morrison was a perfect 28–0 with 23 victories coming by way of knockout. Morrison had four prior fights in 1991 including first round victories over former heavyweight contenders James Tillis and Pinklon Thomas. Initially, the bout was set to take place on August 9, but Morrison had to withdraw after suffering a deep cut while sparring. Mercer contemplated facing a substitute opponent, but it was announced the following week that fight would be rescheduled for October 18.
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