Ross restarts quest for world title

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:48 PM ET

TORONTO - In 2005, New Orleans boxer Carl Handy was forced to relocate from his home town to Montreal after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged his house.

Now, five years later, Brampton boxer Troy Ross is looking to relocate Handy again. From Montreal to Palookaville.

The two headline a professional boxing card on Saturday night at Casino Rama, a show that also features Canadian heavyweight champion Neven Pajkic facing former German champion Andreas Sidon.

It’s not that Ross is a cruel person.

On the contrary, the former Canadian Olympian is one of the nicest, most thoughtful guys in boxing.

But he is an extremely devastating puncher and has been in a particularly foul mood since June when he lost his bid for the vacant world IBF cruiserweight title to Philadelphia’s Steve Cunningham in Neubrandenburg, Germany, one of the more controversial decisions in recent memory.

To make a long story short, Ross floored Cunningham in the fourth round with a thunderous straight left and, at that point, was taking control of the fight.

But Cunningham recovered and threw a counter right, his thumb grazing Ross’ right eye, which opened up a nasty cut that later required surgery. But instead of the referee, Bill Clancy, ruling that the cut was the result of a thumb, and then going to the scorecards, the ringside doctor recommended that the bout be stopped and Clancy declared Cunningham the winner by technical knockout, much to the shock and frustration of Ross and his handlers.

Ross later appealed to the IBF, but to no avail, and now has to start over again in his quest to win a world title.

And the real shame is, the same sort of thing had happened to Ross before — at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where the referee stopped his bout after he had been knocked down. Ross instantly jumped right back up and looked to be in total control of his faculties. But for whatever reason, the referee inexplicability ceased his eight count and declared the Nigerian fighter the winner — ending Ross’ dream of an Olympic gold medal.

“I didn’t think something like what happened at the Olympics could happen again, but unfortunately I got hit below the belt again,” Ross said Thursday, during a media conference at the Huf Gym in Mississauga.

“Definitely I was down,” Ross added, of his post-fight funk. “Especially in Germany while I was in the hospital. But the thing that really helped me get back on my feet were my fans, their support. They’ve motivated me to get back in the ring.”

Despite the setback against Cunningham, Ross, who designs clothes (Ross Wear) and acts in movies (Cinderella Man) when he isn’t training, believes that he is only a fight or two away from another world title shot, though Cunningham has said he doesn’t want to fight the Canadian again, which is understandable.

Ross’ trainer Chris Amos said there is no point dwelling on the controversial loss, but, nevertheless, is still bitter over the IBF’s refusal to acknowledge that Cunningham cut Ross’ eye with his thumb, which would have meant the fight going to the scorecards. In retrospect, Amos believes the New Jersey-based IBF ruled in favour of Cunningham because he represents the good ol’ Stars and Stripes.

“Cunningham’s American, (the IBF) is an American organization and the referee is American,” Amos said. “There is so much politics involved. And the only thing we have to kill the politics, is power and speed.”

Amos said all they can do is keep winning and force one of boxing’s governing bodies to give Ross another title fight. The Brampton fighter is currently ranked No. 3 by the IBF.

All this now leaves Ross facing Handy, who goes by the nickname Kojak, as in the old TV detective.

Handy (24-7-2 15 KOs) has had an up-and-down career, but he’s been money in the bank the past few years, winning his last five fights. One of his losses was a fourth-round TKO defeat at the hands of Quebec fighter Lucien Bute for the NABF light-heavyweight title in 2005.

But Ross’ ring pedigree is even more impressive. The loss to Cunningham was only his second in 25 pro bouts, with 16 KOs. He is perhaps best known for his impressive victory in the boxing reality TV series The Contender last year. Despite his record, Saturday’s fight represents only the third time in his pro career that Ross gets to fight in his home province.

“I’m really excited about that,” he said.


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