But not young, not for a boxer not named Hopkins.
Clock ticks, screwjobs by judges stick in the craw, but can’t let the ire derail you, must use injustices and close calls as motivator, not let cynicism dampen desire.
But oh does it sting.
To know that on March 14, the guy you know you beat, in every fiber of your 6-3, 235 pound bodily vessel, gets a shot in an IBF title eliminator, that smarts more than any liver shot could, because it’s an emotional blow.
Derric Rossy is a 34-year-old old contender who hasn’t yet been able to get over that proverbial hump fight and get that needed W which makes him a graduate of “B School,” of that that certain level of talent and accomplishment, into a realm where he could get a title crack. He told me on Tuesday that I will see on Saturday that he has dealt with the slings, arrows and screwjobs as well as can be. I will see for myself on Saturday night, on CBS Sports Network, as Rossy headlines against stocky power-hitter Akhror Muralimov, in the first foray into cable scraps for that BCS cable property. Mike Lee (13-0 with 7 KOs; age 27; from Chicago), the Notre Dame grad, will also strut his stuff, in the ring against 6-3-1 Gary Tapusoa, and also at the announce table with Col. Bob Sheridan and Benny Ricardo.
“Yep, I got the L in a couple of those fights, I’m stuck in a little story,” the Medford (Long island), NY native Rossy told me. The ex Boston College (2003 graduate) footballer, who had some pro tryouts but was seen as a “tweener,” too big for linebacker, to small to play end, stated that he’s not in woe is me mode. No self pity did I hear; “I’m still a contender. And anyone in the ring with me, they know it’s gonna be a fight.”
I had the Bruce Springsteen channel on in the background, and found myself getting pumped up as “Promised Land” played. Does he like Broooce, does he use music to motivate, I wondered? Somewhat, Rossy told me. Hell, I was happy he knows who Bruce is, being that some of the prospects I talk to don’t, lol. But desire to get to that place where the Pianetas, and Leapais have been, getting a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, that definitively does fuel him.
His record isn’t gleaming, he’s 29-9 with 14 KOs, and he’s been stopped out five times, maybe one or two dubiously. In step up fights, it hasn’t gone his way. Losses to Eddie Chambers, Kubrat Pulev, Audley Harrison, Fres Oquendo and Czar Glazkov mean some folks think Rossy is of a certain caliber. Is he better than the Chars and Pianetas and Leapais, who had those records of gleaming plausibility which helped land them lottery ticket fights…if not better, than no worse…
Oh…that Glazkov fight.
Does that sting something fierce.
He feigned acceptance, then dropped the pretense. “Glazkov is fighting in an IBF eliminator March 14. Am I pissed? It hurts. It stings. I think it was stolen from me. I deserved it (Glazkov won MD on 8-9-14), the whole of me thinks so…there’s not an inch of me that thinks otherwise. A layman who watched would understand…but part of me has to be like, it is what it is. Glazkov was in supreme condition. But it stings. In the long run, judges don’t realize what they take away from you. But I still gotta do my thing. In the future I have to send a message that they can’t steal it from me, that they have to take it from my dead hands.”
Rossy isn’t an eyes tightly closed type. He knows 34 is 34 and he ain’t Hopkins.
“Is this clock ticking? I feel great. I started late, at 24, in Golden Gloves. I was looking to get lean and keep muscle, and my dad (Carlos Rossy, fought in Army, fought as pro, trains Derric) suggested a boxing workout. I met my first trainer, Al Gavin. He made me fall in love with the sport. He was nurturing, a really good guy. He gave me a passion I didn’t know I had. It’s like being introduced to a woman you don’t know you’re going to fall in love with. Like a really great blind date! And sometimes it can be a sonuvabitch, it’s not all happiness. But when you’re passionate about it, you stick with it.”
Rossy turned pro in 2004, and with a few bad judging outings, and the stoppages and the like, I wondered if he’d been close to saying eff it once or twice… “A couple times,” he said. “You reach a boiling point, when it’s not going your way. When the sport betrays you…But you have to have that blind faith, deep in you, it’s your calling to do this.”
The faith is still present, he maintains. And his foe, a 27-year-old Uzbeki living in Texas, on Saturday will pay the price for the betrayals, he tells me.
Now, it can be argued he is what he is…so how does he get over that hump? For one thing, after a loss to Joey Dawejko, Rossy gave up his 9 to 5, construction work, and is now a full time fighter. He saved up dough to invest in himself, basically.
“I figured, I want to work at it one hundred percent, or stop. And I see the progress, it’s day and night.” He seeks to work smarter, not harder, throw more combos, not go home-run hunting so much, be a more cerebral fighter, he said. He says he’ll need to be that smart fighter Saturday, as his foe is “not polished, stocky, strong, you stand in front of him, you disappear. And not getting over the hump to this point, there’s nothing deterring me. It motivates me more.”
We talked some about that fine line between acceptance, and realism, and self doubt, which can plant negative, self defeating thoughts in you…
“Oh yes, when I’ve lost, I’ve scrutinized myself. The self doubt creeps in. But hope comes back. The reassurance, ‘I can do this.’ What separates these fighters, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ fighters, it’s a fine line.”
We could see a greener Muralimov (16-0 with 13 KOs) look to land a filthy one, get off balance, and get countered by this more cerebral Rossy on CBS, friends. Rossy doesn’t think he has an iffy chin, so he won’t get stopped for a sixth time, he said. “But I can’t fall asleep,” he noted.
34. Not old.
But not young.
“Is it my last chance? There’s a little bit of that, I can’t lie. But I rage against the machine. I still feel good. And we fighters, we know this sport is dangerous. We accept that. I want to send a message, that you put me in a fight, you see fireworks. No matter what, when I fight, it is a fight, it could be with Klitschko, you know you’re getting my best. And when I think about the Glazkov fight, it does more than hurt, it makes you furious. I was being light hearted about it, but it was so close, I could smell it, taste it. When those guys are on TV, I see me. I gotta use it, this guy’s gonna feel my fury. I’m gonna project on Muralimov whatever needs to be projected, the frustration built up, I’m gonna let it go. You’re gonna see a person who is worth that title shot. I’m just as good as anybody.”
Follow Woods on Twitter, and get note when trouble’s busing in from outta state.