Duddy Targets a European Middleweight Title

john duddy10.08.07 - By Dan Fitz-Simons: Much to the disappointment of his U.S. fans, middleweight contender John Duddy will fight his next three bouts in Ireland and Continental Europe. Duddy’s handler, Eddie McLoughlin, says that John’s next fight will take place in Belfast in early October, as soon as the cut he received from a head butt in the Furlan fight heals. The King’s Hall in Belfast is only a short bus ride from the Derry Destroyer’s home town, and the match is expected to pack the arena with fanatical Duddy fans from his native Northern Ireland.

Duddy’s shotgun technique usually begins at the bell in round one, guaranteeing fight fans an exciting evening. But Duddy’s popularity is not limited to the Emerald Isle; in New York his brawling, crowd pleasing style sold out Madison Square Garden three times. Duddy himself related an incident in a Manhattan bar where everyone stood up and sang “The Eye of the Tiger” as he tried to get out the door.

While Duddy is not ready to take on the likes of middleweight bangers like Pavlik, Abraham, or Miranda, he will be able to challenge European contenders like Sebastian Sylvester or even WBA champion Felix Sturm after three or four more fights. According to his new trainer Don Turner, Duddy is as good as any of the other top middleweight contenders. However, Turner feels that John needs a few more fights before stepping up to take a shot at a world title. Turner has forty years of training experience in the sweet science and coached several world champions, including Larry Holmes, Aaron Pryor, and Evander Holyfield. Moreover, Europe is full of journeyman middleweights who would jump at the chance to fight Duddy because his fights draw in big purses.

Some observers believe that it wasn’t a bad thing that John had to go the full ten rounds with the experienced Furlan. Duddy himself admits he still has a lot to learn (“I’m a work in progress”). Hopefully, he will be flexible enough to listen to Don Turner and follow the dictum of Socrates: “The wisest man is the man who knows how little he knows.” Part of Duddy’s appeal to the fans is his genuine humility and generosity. He doesn’t fit the brash, trash-talking model of most up-and-coming contenders. Duddy even says nice things about his opponents.

But “Mr. nice guy” quickly disappears when the Derry Destroyer climes into the ring to the frenzied chants of “Duddee, Duddee, Duddee!” His devil may care attitude is immediately exhibited when he suddenly explodes, reigning punishing blows on his stunned opponent.

Critics of Duddy often argue that he has no technical skills, but nothing could be further from the truth. Duddy’s offensive arsenal includes a vicious left jab, powerful left hooks, rapid combinations, and a stiff right upper cut, which he used to drop Furlan. He also has a strong chin, great stamina, and fast hands. Some fight aficionados think Duddy has one of the best left jabs in the division. It’s only a matter of time before these tools are honed to perfection by Don Turner, who has already proven to be a valuable asset in Duddy’s corner.

John also takes his training very seriously and is always in tip-top condition. He fights frequently, realizing that no amount of training can compensate for an actual bout. At fight time Duddy ignores all the hype (“I just want to fight”) and demonstrates great determination and courage in the ring.

Duddy likes to storm out of his corner in the first round to test his opponent’s chin with combinations or a powerful left hook. If he can’t take out a challenger in round one, he subjects him to a constant barrage of stiff left jabs which he fires off like pistons. Lately, he has been squaring himself off to throw left hooks to the body to wear down his opponent over time. John might have learned this technique from Mickey Ward, who pitched in to train him for a while.

Because of his superb condition, Duddy has been able to win many rounds by sheer work output and by beating his opponents to the punch. However, in his fights against Campas, Bonsante, and Strickland, Duddy appeared to be in a funk; he was winning, but not improving. Duddy himself complained that he was having trouble putting together combinations. Others felt he was getting hit too much, and that he needed to improve his head movement and throw more left jabs.

Irish Ropes was hoping his new trainer could gradually turn the situation around, and Duddy did throw more jabs and combinations in his last fight in Dublin. However, he still has some serious problems to work on. Most of these issues are related to poor defensive habits, possibly because he wasn’t trained properly earlier in his career. Duddy wins, but he always seems to do it the hard way, taking too many head shots which in turn lead to cuts that stymie his training schedule. His aggressive, straight-on offense leaves him open to counterpunches, especially right hands over the top.

Duddy also lacks head movement, exposes his chin, seldom throws punches from a crouch or angles, and tends to drop his left hand. In his last two fights he exhibited the annoying habit of not finishing off his opponents after sending them to the canvass in the first round. Both fights then went the distance, with the nagging possibility that Duddy could lose on cuts.

Nevertheless, the Derry Destroyer keeps winning, and his record of 21-0 (16 KOs) is impressive. While not a big banger, he is a boxer-puncher, who can drop an opponent at any time. Duddy is currently ranked number 6 in the WBO and number 10 in the WBC, WBA, and IBF ratings. Irish Ropes is considering a November fight after the bout in Belfast, with two additional fights planned; one in December, and another in March on St. Patrick’s Day.

Team Duddy could also move John’s training camp from the Poconos to Europe before the Belfast match. There was talk of Duddy stepping up to challenge Sebastian Sylvester; however, Don Turner might feel that John is still not ready. A more likely candidate could be 27-year old Mahir Oral (“the Lion”) who fights out of Hamburg with a 21-1-2 (8KOs) record. Oral currently holds the EBU-EU middleweight title. Whatever the outcome in Europe, Duddy is bound to return to the Big Apple a more seasoned middleweight contender.

Article posted on 11.08.2007

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