By Charles Hallman
November 5 is David Morrell, Jr’s mother’s birthday. He is also headlining this Saturday night’s fight card at the downtown Armory as he defends his WBA super middleweight title.
The 24-year-old Cuban native, who won all but two of his 132 amateur bouts, is undefeated in seven pro fights. Morrell last defended his belt in June on Showtime—he won the title in 2020.
Morrell’s Saturday night opponent is Aidos Yerbossynuly (16-0), who won his last two fights by knockout, but he hasn’t fought since last December. This fight will also be on Showtime.
During an October 26 Showtime Zoom media call in which the MSR participated, both unbeaten fighters, speaking through interpreters, complimented each other.
“David Morrell is a good fighter… All respect,” said Yerbossynuly of Kazakhstan.
Said Morrell, “I know he is a good fighter, a strong fighter. I’m excited.”
The Showtime host, however, did all he could to create some controversy during the media call with his egged-on questioning in hopes to get a rise out of the fighters, to basically start something, such as Morrell fighting in Minneapolis with a supposed home-ring advantage. Yerbossynuly proudly declared that the former Soviet Union introduced and taught all Cubans to fight, and he will teach his opponent a lesson.
During our one-on-one Zoom call with Morrell (and his interpreter), we asked him about the questioning. “I noticed he was trying to maybe set up a little trap or make me stumble,” admitted the boxer, whose English is limited. “It’s all part of the press conference. I really didn’t mind anything that was asked in the press conference. Hopefully it was entertaining.”
We first met Morrell shortly after his defection from Cuba and arrival in Minneapolis in 2018. He then was training out of the Circle of Discipline gym in South Minneapolis. Not speaking English at the time, he wasn’t even 20 years old.
Asked to briefly assess his growth from then to now, Morrell replied, “The difference is huge. The David Morrell that came to the U.S. was a boy that wanted to make something of himself, have a better future. The David Morrell you see now is a man that has matured a lot, and I feel I am a lot more capable of thinking clearly and making decisions in the ring… Before I wasn’t able to think so decisively.
“I feel the progress I’ve made is significant and for the best,” he said proudly.
Morrell still calls Minneapolis his second home although he now trains in Houston, Texas on advice of his handlers. “I’m happy with the change. It doesn’t make Minneapolis any less,” stressed the champion.
The champion doesn’t mince words or punches—only one of his pro fights has gone the distance. Morrell’s punching power is quick and impressive. We have seen him in action all but twice since he turned pro a year after he arrived stateside.
Morrell loves the Armory and looks forward to putting on a show for the locals in attendance Saturday night. “It is my second home,” he said of the historic venue as well as Minneapolis.
“Everybody in Minneapolis supports me at every fight. It is a big opportunity and a big advantage to give back and show the love Minnesota gave me. They have never for a second made me feel like I wasn’t anything but an American,” said Morrell, who thanked us for speaking with him.
“I love them a lot. It is really important to me for them to know that I really appreciate them, love them, and embrace them everywhere I go ever since I came here.”