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Duddy vs. Eastman – “Eastman Will Bring Out The Best In John Duddy”

28.11.07 – By Matthew Hurley: There is another fight taking place on December 8th other than the highly anticipated welterweight showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton. John Duddy, 22-0 with 17 KOs, the immensely popular but relatively untested middleweight contender, will take on former European champion Howard Eastman, 42-5 with 35 KOs at King’s Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s a fight that Duddy hopes will propel him into a title shot against middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik who is scheduled to fight a non-title rematch against Jermain Taylor on February 16th..

Duddy, from Derry, Northern Ireland but now residing in Queens, New York has become something of a folk hero to his native brethren and Irish Americans on the east coast. Despite fighting marginal opposition the young boxer with the charming demeanor and aggressive fistic style is becoming a huge ticket seller in New York and a guaranteed sell out in Ireland.

Although critics, and there are many, maintain that he is not yet even worthy of a top ten middleweight ranking, that has not precluded the gregarious fighter from slowly turning into that rare boxing phenomenon – a potential cross over star. That indefinable ability to charm the public has taken many an athlete a long way, and many of those athletes who achieved stardom didn’t have the requisite skills to accompany their image. But Duddy is a fighter through and through and he is determined to achieve his goal of winning a title belt. He has convinced his new trainer, veteran Don Turner, of as much.

“If John Duddy takes care of himself,” Turner was quoted as saying on 15Rounds.com, “keeps his weight down and behaves like a fighter should, he has the potential to be a world champion. But it is all up to him. I’ve had twenty world champions and John’s going to be my twenty first.”

Duddy himself added, “I have a good working relationship with Don Turner. I’ve learned a lot. I’m looking forward to fighting Howard Eastman, who is a dangerous customer. Hopefully, after fighting Eastman, the doors will be open for me to fight one of the top middleweights for the world title. But all I’m focused on right now is fighting Eastman and showing everybody how much I’ve improved training with Don.”

The wily Eastman should provide a good gauge of where Duddy is at the moment. Turner is trying to instill in him the boxing ethic that he incorporated as an amateur – the art of hitting and not getting hit. Turner believes that Duddy’s fighting spirit has led him to take more risks in the ring and that very risk taking has dragged him into some tense moments, particularly against Yori Boy Campas in 2006 at Madison Square Garden. That fight turned into a struggle as the battle tested Campas took Duddy into deep waters and very nearly drowned him. All the flaws that his critics had been pointing out were there for all to see, but so too was his fighting spirit and determination. He won a close unanimous decision and learned more in that fight than he had in all the previous bouts in which he’d registered quick knockouts. It was a test all young fighters have to go through to even attempt to climb to the next level and Duddy passed. But Turner would rather have him stick and move than plant his feet and swing for the knockout.

“He was a boxer before, as an amateur, but he got off track. Now he’s gone back to what he did as an amateur. Now, John’s not getting hit as much.”

Should he defeat Eastman there is an outside chance that because of that star quality Kelly Pavlik may choose him for what the champion may consider and easy first title defense. But Duddy’s promoter Eddie McLouglin of Irish Ropes Promotions believes that his fighter is on his way to becoming something special.

“Eastman will bring out the best in John Duddy,” he says. “John’s shown improvement since he started working with Don Turner. Since we got involved with John, our goal wasn’t just to get in a position to fight for a world title, but to win it.”

Article posted on 28.11.2007



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