David Tua vs. Ross Puritty: Can Ross "The Boss" Stop Tua?

27.10.06 - By Leon Shook: David Tua, 33, will be returning to the ring on Friday, November 3rd, at Roseland Ballroom, in New York, against the journeyman knockout artist Ross Puritty (30-19-3, 27 KO's). This after, former cruiserweight champion Kelvin Davis pulled out from a proposed bout with Tua and promoter Cedric Kushner went to work on finding a last minute opponent and came up with the hard punching Puritty as a substitute. As it turns out, Puritty might actually be the much more lethal threat to Tua, than the rather diminutive Davis, who at 5’9,” would have been forced to fight Tua at close range, something it is always risky to do due to Tua’s immense punching power.

Tua (45-3-1, 39 KO’s), as usual, is on a sort of a come back trail. Actually, Tua hasn’t done much in recent years, other than his draw with Hasim Rahman in 2003. To be honest, I felt that Tua lost that fight.

And though Tua has won his last three fights since then, he’s done it over pure journeymen fighters, for example, Talmade Griffis, Cisse Salif, and Edward Gutierrez. Of them, Tua knocked out Griffis and Gutierrez, but narrowly beat Salif by split decision in 2005. Not too good, is it? For whatever reason, Tua's career has been in the slow lance since his 12-round thrashing at the hands of Lennox Lewis in 2000. Following that defeat, it's almost as if Tua fell off the face of the earth, as he's not done much other than beating a hand full of journeymen and losing to Chris Byrd and fighting to a draw against Hasim Rahman.

Puritty, on the other hand, has been idle since his 10 round unanimous loss to Eddie Chambers, in May 2005. Since then, however, Purrity has been out of the ring 18 months, which may turn out to be a problem for him against Tua. However, he was in training at the time that he got the call for the Tua match, so his ring rust might not be as bad as it would seem. Purrity, originally from Phoenix, Arizona, previously was a college football stand out. He played four seasons at the University of Texas El Paso as a starting defensive tackle. During his senior year in college, he played in the Independence Bowl. Though, his real passion was never football. Instead, he loved boxing, and started training at the San Juan Gym, in the summer of his senior year.

Unfortunately for Puritty, he never had an amateur career, and was forced to learn the boxing trade on the job, fighting in the pro ranks. In his debut in May 1989, he won by a first round knockout over Sergio Araujo. Not surprisingly, he naturally lost eight of his first 16 fights.

The father of five is a devoted husband and he does most of the child rearing as a “house husband.” Boxing helps pay the bills and it is something that Ross can safely do. Other than a few cuts, Puritty has never been seriously hurt in the ring in over seventeen years and 52 fights. Along the way, Puritty has fought a list of some of the best of the best, such as, Kirk Johnson, Tommy Morrison, Hasim Rahman, Michael Grant, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, Joe Hipp, Corrie Sanders, Larry Donald, Chris Byrd, Wladimir Klitschko, Eliecer Castillo, Vitali Klitschko, Timo Hoffmann, Alexander Dimitrenko, and his last opponent Eddie Chambers.

The two fighters do have a few common opponents, like Hasim Rahman and Chris Byrd. Tua previously knocked Rahman out in 1998, and then fought him to a controversial draw in 2003. Puritty lost a lopsided decision to Rahman in1996. However, the fight turned out to be a war, with both fighters landing huge shots. Like Tua, Puritty lost to Byrd, getting easily out-boxed in the process. Tua has what appears to be the better record overall, but Puritty has shown that he is a gritty fringe contender, who holds a TKO win over current IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Purrity upset an undefeated Klitschko in 1998, when Klitschko did not pace himself and was so fatigued that he was nearly knocked out before the referee stopped the fight in the 11th round. At the same time, Wladimir seemed ill prepared for Puritty's huge power, and seemed very nervous as early as the 2nd round after tasting some big right hands from Puritty. From then on, Wladimir ran for the next 8 rounds, and in the process, tired himself out and was easy pickings for Puritty in the later rounds. Vitali later got revenge for his brother, when he stopped Purrity on a cut in the 11th round in 2001. Puritty has not been stopped since the bout with Vitali Klitschko. Despite losing to Klitschko, Puritty has an excellent chin, never going down against fighters like Corrie Sanders, Rahman and the Klitschko brothers, all very hard punchers.

So, what about this fight? How does Tua lose it? Simple, by being too aggressive and getting tired. The weigh-in numbers may be key here. Tua weighed in at 245 lbs for his last fight in July 2006, the same weight that he was for Rahman, when he fought to disappointing draw. For my mind, that is around twelve pounds too heavy for the shorter Tua. Of course, nowhere near as out of shape as someone like James Toney, yet it’s far too heavy for Tua, who typically tires early in his fights. In his recent bouts, Tua had looked slow and rusty against Rahman, Griffis, Salif and Gutierrez.

Rahman even sent him to the seat of his trunks at the close of the final round. Tua has simply looked tired and slow, hence he’s compensated by fighting very economically, throwing few punches. When you compare his fight output now with his former high volume punch output back in his prime against fighters like Ike Ibeabutchi, the contrast is startling. Tua, even though he’s only 33-years-old, relatively young for a heavyweight, it’s almost as if he’s far advanced in age than that, almost as if he’s over forty years old.

Now, say what you will about Puritty and his dismal fight record, he is a tough survivor, who knows how to pace himself and has always showed up to win. He’s a big heavyweight, and is never out of shape for his bouts. Puritty’s natural weight is between 245 lbs and 253. He looks fit at either weight. If he shows up at 245 lbs to 253, he could make it a long night for Tua.

Puritty’s peek-a-boo style is very similar to that of past heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson. It is very tight and hard to get inside of. At the same time, Tua does not have a jab straight enough to bridge the Purrity defense. Further, Tua also is too short and stubby to fully take advantage of his jab. From the way I see it, Tua’s one hope lies in those monster overhand rights and left hooks he throws quickly and with power. It will be interesting to see if Tua has the stamina it will take to break down Puritty’s seemingly impenetrable defense. If history is any indication, it’s not likely that Tua will throw enough punches to hurt Puritty.

Purrity has a jab but seldom uses it. He just keeps moving forward and taking shots to the gloves and arms, in hopes he can land that fight-ending right hand. Ross does best against fighters that will cooperate with him and come forward and stand right in front of him, such as David Tua. Puritty struggles against taller, faster boxers, ones that circles and stay away from him.

This fight’s results depend on two things: 1. Does Tua have the stamina to maintain an all out assault against a solid defensive fighter with a proven chin? 2. Can Purrity land enough big right hand shots to either win rounds or stop Tua. If the answers to both questions are no, then we have a slow paced boring fight on our hands. If the answer is yes, then we have the makings of a possible interesting and exciting fight.

Despite his poor showings in the past 5 years, the odds are in Tua’s favor but, I will never count the Puritty out. You know, he just may land that punch he has been looking for, like he did against Wladimir Klitschko, when he stopped him in the 11th round in 1998. After tasting a series of huge right hands from Puritty, Wladimir was flopping around on the canvas like a fish out of water, that’s how powerful Puritty’s right hand is. One thing is for certain, Purrity will come there to win.

I am not betting the farm on Ross Puritty, but I am hopeful that he will have a good showing. At this point of his career, a win against Tua will be nothing more than a moral victory, while a loss by Tua could be a career-ender.
I am a Ross “The Boss” Puritty fan. I like Tua, but I would still like to see Ross take the man out, just for old time’s sake. It would be a nice way for Ross to celebrate his 40th birthday early.

Article posted on 28.10.2006

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