By Ognian Georgiev / Bulgaria Today
Ross “The Boss” Puritty is the first man to beat and knock out Wladimir Klitschko among professionals. The American from Norman, Oklahoma, was a total outsider when he met the future heavyweight champ in 1998. The bout was in Kiev. The Ukrainian was 24-0 with 23 KOs at the time, while Puritty’s record was 25 wins, 13 losses and 1 draw. In the beginning of 11th round, the Klitschko corner stopped the bout.
Now Wladimir is reigning WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO heavyweight champ with 16 successful defenses. Puritty is a 47-year-old retired fighter, who finished his career in 2007 with 31 wins (27 KOs), 20 losses and 3 draws.
What do you remember from your fight with Wladimir Klitschko?
A very tough fight, very tough guy. He punches hard and is very skilled.
How did you manage to knock him out?
I knocked him out, because, basically, I didn’t give up, didn’t quit. He kept punching and I just kept taking whatever he punched. I fought back and lucky for me he couldn’t take my punches as I took his.
You received the fight against Klitschko on a very short notice (8 days). Did you have some special preparation for it?
Yeah, the notice was very short. The only preparation that I had, basically, was that I knew it’s gonna be a tough fight and I kept trying to be the last one on the ring.
Did you speak with Klitschko after the fight? What was his condition?
No. When the fight was over they took him to the hospital.
Why didn’t Wladimir ever want to fight you again?
Hahaha, I’ve got no idea. I wished he would fight with me again. It was a great chance for him to prove that he may beat me. I was looking for fighting (him) again. A couple of times he was asked, but he said no and never explained why he wouldn’t fight me. I don’t know why, he never gave me a reason.
You fought with Vitali in 2001, as well. Who is tougher?
Without doubt Vitaly, who is very good and very tough. Wladimir is also very tough. But you know, I lost to Vitali, so I must say that Vitali is tougher.
What do you think about Wladimir Klitschko-Kubrat Pulev?
I don’t know much about Pulev. Hopefully it’s going to be a very good fight.
What kind of advice would you give to Pulev in order to beat Klitschko?
The best advice – don’t let Wladimir box. He is a very good boxer. Pulev must make him fight.
Which is the punch that Pulev could use to knock out Wladimir?
I don’t know. Maybe overhand right, yeah.
Why has Wladimir Klitschko been unbeaten for the last 10 years?
Most of the people that are fighting him are thinking that they may box with him and do what they want to do. No one will beat him if he is let to box. His jab is very strong, just like lot of the right hands. You must make him fight. Don’t let him box.
Why is the Ukrainian is not respected in USA?
Because he is not fighting any tough figthers in the USA. For Americans he fights very boring fights. He doesn’t bring a lot of action. He is boxing and it’s very good boxing. In America they want to see a big and a tough fight. Wladimir is just boxing, he makes the things look easy.
What is your Top 3 in the current heavyweight division?
I haven’t really watch boxing lately. You got to say Wladimir, because he is the champion. It’s hard to say, because not many guys got a chance to show between them who is better. We’ve got some fighters with records like Deontay Wilder or Kubrat Pulev. But nobody knows who is better, because they didn’t fight each other. It used to be the toughest figthers were fighting each other to determine who is the best. Not any more. Now they want easy fights to get more wins. It’s bad for boxing.
Who is responsible for such a situation? The professional governing bodies or maybe promoters?
I think it’s the promoters and couple of bodies. The reason is money. When the fighters start winning and are given certain places they are making a lot of money. If they lose, there isn’t much money. The promoters, managers and bodies – they protect the fighters. The governing bodies are protecting Wladimir, because he is the champion. If he loses, the next fighter may not be so popular. So he will not make such a money for them.
You knocked down the former undisputed champ Lennox Lewis twice in sparring. Tell us more about it?
Hahaha, we were sparring. I knocked him down twice in one round. Then they said “no thank you” and send me home.
Why didn’t you ever get a chance to fight Lennox in an official match?
I don’t know. The boxing world sees me too dangerous for most of the guys. I don’t go to the fight trying to look pretty or trying to box. I went to the fights trying to entertain people, to make a good show. Most fighters today don’t want to be hurt. They don’t fight that way.
What are you doing right now?
I coach a high school football team. I teach kids boxing.
One last question. What is the story of your nickname “The Boss?”
That was from Sean Gibbons. He works for Top Rank right now. He was my friend and found some fights for me years ago. One day he came up to the gym and said, “Hey, Ross The Boss, this should be your name.”
Ognian Georgiev is a Bulgarian sports journalist and author of the book “The White Prisoner: Galabin Boevski’s Secret Story”. You may find more about him on his blog: http://ogigeorgiev.wordpress.com/