Didn’t Duddy Used to be Good? The Pride of Ireland vs. the Middleweight Champs: Pavlik, Sturm and Abraham

john duddy18.10.07 - By Jason Peck: It’s official – John Duddy is two fights away from a title shot against Kelly Pavlik. Should the Irishman emerge victorious he’ll become the first middleweight champ from the Emerald Isles in more than a century. All he must do now is beat one nameless fighter, possibly followed by another.

What a story that would make. But there’s a problem with the ending. Few expect him to last against Pavlik, much less take his title. I'd like to take the argument a step further: I don’t think Duddy can beat anyone holding a middleweight title right now, nor any of the top middleweight contenders.

I’ll admit – I jumped on the Duddy bandwagon when the gallant Gaelic whacked out opponents with a wave of his hand, especially ones far more experienced than he. Indeed, John Duddy was no “Dud.”

His recent fights have changed my opinion. Where once he fought well, his current opposition fails to challenge him. Duddy’s once unstoppable knockout power vanished in the process, despite his management team’s best match-making. And come to think of it, isn’t he a bit small for a middleweight? Duddy gains weight for his fights, rather than losing it. Indeed, many of his early fights were fought when he was barely over the junior middleweight limit.

A look at the possibilities:

Kelly Pavlik vs. Duddy: Pavlik’s far from unbeatable; even in defeat Taylor proved that a good jab and accurate punching could win the day. But Duddy has no such gift. A much smaller middleweight, Duddy would have a hard time reaching Pavlik, through the champ’s long, spidery arms.

Such a contest leaves Pavlik with two options: a). either stay on the outside and land enough glancing blows to move in for the kill, or b). forget any plan and beat the shamrocks out of him. Either way, Duddy goes the way of previous Pavlik victims like Edison Miranda.

Result: Pavlik TKO7 Duddy

Felix Sturm vs. Duddy: Many dismissed Sturm after the Castellejo loss, but experts and matchmakers know better. With a fast, precision jab, excellent boxing skills, and superb conditioning, few will repeat Oscar de la Hoya’s mistake in taking Sturm lightly.

Sturm would keep Duddy at bay with his jab, and land lots of them – expect a repeat of the de la Hoya fight, but worse. Duddy lacks the speed to land solid shots behind Sturm’s defense, just like the middleweight De La Hoya.

But this time, Sturm is savvy enough to seek the knockout, rather than risk another questionable decision against a popular opponent. More jabs follow, then some straight rights and a hook or two. Best case scenario, Duddy loses nearly every round. Worst case, the referee stops the fight.

Result: Sturm W12 Duddy

Arthur Abraham vs. Duddy: I have the same issues with Abraham as Duddy. He’s too slow, low on defense and boasts far less boxing ability than he ought to. But he has some advantages. For one, Abraham is much larger, and would show up for the fight with a significant size advantage. For another, his punches are proven at a world championship level – unlike Duddy’s.

They go head to head. Duddy gets a shot or two. Best case scenario, he drops a decision like Kofi Jantuah. Worst case, he goes down like Khoren Gevor. Either way, Abraham wins a shootout.

Result: Abraham KO Duddy

And for fun:

Kassim Ouma vs. Duddy: They said Ouma was too small for middleweight. Guess what? They were right. But Duddy – a natural junior middleweight – lacks that advantage, and his punches move in slow motion compared to Ouma. An easy decision.

Result: Ouma W12 Duddy.

Cory Spinks vs. Duddy: Want to stop Cory Spinks? Hit him first. But lightning speed isn’t Duddy’s strong point.

Result: Spinks W12 Duddy

Roman Karmazin vs. Duddy: He ruled Russia’s bare-knuckle boxing scene with an iron fist, tore his way to title contention and beat Kassim Ouma stupid on the champ’s best day. After a loss to Spinks, the worst-managed fighter in boxing is making a middleweight debut – and Karmazin frame can handle the weight. He has superb boxing skills as well, enough to cancel any advantage.

Result: Karmazin W12 Duddy

Winky Wright vs. Duddy: Like Wright-Trinidad. Lots of punches, total dominance.

Result: Wright W12 Duddy

Without some major improvements, any title shot will undoubtedly fail. I blame his team, who panicked when they saw their meal ticket in jeopardy. Now their prize pupil is headed for dangerous waters without even cutting his teeth on a second-tier fighter like Raymond Joval, Jantuah or Sergio Mora. By this time, Pavlik had done far more for his shot than Duddy has.

Had they pressed him like before, the Pride of Ireland might have a loss or two on his record. But he’d also have the experience to fix his shortcomings.

Article posted on 19.10.2007

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