Trey Lippe-Morrison boarded a plane on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles and embarked on his first excursion outside of the United States.
Approximately six hours later, the unbeaten heavyweight knockout artist of the Four State Franchise landed in Central America.
But Lippe-Morrison isn’t on vacation. This trip is strictly business.
Fighting on foreign soil for the first time, Lippe-Morrison (15-0, 15 KOs) will end a 13-month absence from in-ring competition and put his undefeated record on the line tonight against Pedro Martinez (10-1, 4 KOs) at DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing Summer Series event at Gimnasio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.
“Every fight is a good opportunity for me,” Lippe-Morrison told the Globe on Tuesday night. “I don’t feel too different being outside of the United States. I’ve always expected something like this. As a professional fighter, you have to branch out and go to other places. It’s just something you have to do. I just try to stay focused in the ring wherever I’m at.
“It’s an exciting journey for me,” Lippe-Morrison added. “Most of my fights have been in Oklahoma, so this is a special opportunity to fight in Costa Rica.”
A 29-year-old native of Vinita, Oklahoma, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Lippe-Morrison hasn’t fought since recording a technical knockout victory against Byron Polley on a Top Rank Boxing/ESPN card last June at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
“I’m just ready to get back at it,” Lippe-Morrison said. “And it’s not like I’ve been off for a whole year though. I’ve been training the whole time, and I’ve stayed ready that whole time.”
Lippe-Morrison was scheduled to fight in OKC this past November on another Top Rank show but had to withdraw because of a foot issue.
“He hasn’t fought in a year, but it’s not like he’s been off for a year,” Four State Franchise promoter Tony Holden said. “He’s been sparring the whole time, and he’s been working on a little bit of everything.”
For months, Lippe-Morrison has been working with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. The son of former heavyweight champion Tommy “The Duke” Morrison said he attempts to be a sponge during his time with Roach.
“This has been my fourth camp with Freddie, and I’m becoming a better boxer each time, always learning different things, not just focusing on a specific opponent but becoming a more well-rounded fighter,” Lippe-Morrison said.
Tonight’s bout is scheduled for eight rounds. Of course, fans have become accustomed to seeing Lippe-Morrison end his fights early, although that’s never his game plan.
“I never go into a fight thinking of when or how I’m going to stop the other fighter,” he said. “I just do my thing, break down my opponent, and if there’s an opportunity to finish inside the distance, I take advantage of it.”
Martinez, 35, is a native of Venezuela and has recorded four knockouts. The upset-minded Martinez is coming off his first loss as a pro as he suffered a setback via unanimous decision to Artem Suslenkov on March 23 in Russia.
“I know he’s 10-1, but I don’t know too much about him,” Lippe-Morrison said. “I’ve seen one video of him. He seems durable and looks like a good guy to go some rounds with.
“When I’m in the ring tomorrow night, I’ll look to stay focused and stay relaxed,” he added. “Hopefully I’ll take care of business and get better.”
As far as the big picture, Lippe-Morrison’s goal is a simple one — win tonight and then continue to ascend in the heavyweight division.
“For now, it’s just one fight at a time. ... Keep learning, keep getting better and knowing that at the appropriate time, we’ll make a big move,” he said.
In tonight’s main event, Costa Rica native Hanna Gabriels (19-2-1, 11 KOs) will defend her WBA women’s super welterweight title against Abril Vidal (8-0, 3 KOs).
Also on the card, O’Shaquie Foster (15-2) takes on Jesus Bravo (19-1-1) in a super featherweight clash, Abram Martinez (6-0) faces Jorge Mendez (4-4-1) in welterweight action, Keyber Gonzalez (12-0) takes on Jaime Barboza (20-17) in a middleweight clash and Bergman Aguilar (14-5-1) meets Eliecer Lanzas (17-15-3) in a super lightweight bout.
Tonight’s card will be streamed live internationally via UFC Fight Pass, with the event beginning at 7 p.m. locally.