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'Rocky V' Star Tommy Morrison Dead at 44

9/2/2013 10:23 AM PDT

Tommy Morrison Dead -- 'Rocky V' Star Dies at 44

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Tommy Morrison
-- a former heavyweight boxing champ and star of "Rocky V" -- died in a Nebraska hospital Sunday night ... after a long battle with AIDS.

Morrison's longtime boxing promoter, Tony Holden, confirmed the death. He tells TMZ, Morrison had been in the hospital for several months battling an illness ... he wouldn't specify what. He died peacefully, his wife by his side.

Back in 1996 Morrison tested positive for HIV, thus ending his boxing career. He later denied having the disease or that it even existed.

In 1990 Morrison starred in "Rocky V" with Sylvester Stallone, playing a rookie boxer training under Rocky Balboa. In 1993 he took home a real title, defeating George Foreman for the heavyweight championship.

He was 44.

Tommy in "Rocky V":

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