Boxing Commentary: The Future is now for John Duddy

By Christopher Roche, Boxing Questions (and answers) - 1) Is a title shot in the immediate future for “Ireland’s” John Duddy? The Castle in Boston, MA is a long way from the glitz of the MGM Grand, and despite facing a middleweight from Ohio, John Duddy’s opponent Charles Howe could not be mistaken for Kelly Pavlik. However, Duddy’s fans relished a last chance at seeing their fighter up close, in a club setting. For Duddy, this bout was a showcase, as well as a coming out party with his new trainer Pat Burns, and he tossed a shutout against the tough, yet overmatched Howe..

John Duddy(Since the bout was not televised, I included Duddy vs. Howe fight coverage at the end of this column).

The Castle is a former armory, and it has been retrofitted into an arena, complete with a Smith and Wollensky steakhouse attached to it. As the smell of searing USDA Prime wafted through the corridors, a predominantly Irish crowd packed the venerable venue. Duddy has major fan appeal, and his supporters made several attempts at starting a “John Duddy” song set to the same words as “There is only one Ricky Hatton”. The song never quite caught on, but there was plenty of other singing and chanting when Duddy entered the ring.

Duddy’s ability to generate such enthusiasm, against an unknown opponent, is a testament to his sustainability as a box office smash. His ticket selling ability is not lost on rival promoters, and word is that he has had several intriguing offers. The riskiest one, however, is the opportunity that just slipped away, against Pavlik. Duddy was in line for a shot at the middleweight king, but after Duddy struggled against Walid Smichet, Pavlik’s people chose to defend against Gary Lockett, whose most intriguing attribute was that his trainer is Enzo Calzaghe.

Duddy’s future holds many possibilities, but perhaps the most interesting would be a move down to 154. Duddy entered the bout last Saturday well under the middleweight limit of 160 lbs., and he looked quicker and more athletic than I had seen him in the past. Duddy hustled a nice jab, and he often finished off his combinations with a hard left hook. Duddy also flashed a good uppercut, and despite suffering another cut, his defense looked much better. After watching him command the ring for 10 rounds, I thought to myself that his best match-up for a world title would be against Sergio Mora, rather than Kelly Pavlik.

Styles make fights, and Duddy is generally a go forward boxer-puncher who always seems to get into wars. Mora is a pure boxer who would be forced to deal with Duddy’s pressure. The classic boxer vs. puncher match-up would be set. Against Pavlik, Duddy’s style does not favor him. Conventional wisdom dictates that when two straight-ahead boxer-punchers collide, normally the bigger, stronger fighter wins.

Against Pavlik, Duddy gives up several inches in height, and Pavlik certainly has the edge in power. While Duddy is a normal sized middleweight, Pavlik could be a light heavyweight, with his 6’3” frame. Against Mora, Duddy’s physical skill-set is more evenly matched, and if Duddy takes the belt at 154, he could definitely inject some major excitement into a division that is somewhat overlooked.

In short, Duddy could be a big fish in a smaller pond, and a bout with Mora would be nothing to sneeze at as far as marketability and challenge. The only question about a move to 154 would be whether Duddy would be comfortable making the weight.

Despite the howls of some critics, Duddy’s marketability, undefeated record and blood and guts style have earned him a title shot. Whether Duddy stays at 160, or follows the path I am outlining in going to 154, remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, the days of fighting in venues with 2,000 folding chairs are over.

Duddy is headed back to the mainstream, and I think his best path is to move down to 154 and try to wrest away the belt from the “Latin Snake”.

Fight I Would like to See and Why

Brian Minto vs. Chris Arreola: In addition to the Duddy vs. Mora bout I outlined above, a heavyweight bout between Minto and Arreola would inject some life into the anemic American Heavyweight landscape. Minto and Arreola both have exciting styles, and while this bout would likely end early, it would serve as an eliminator amongst the American heavies.

Quote of the Week

"Once my boxing career is over with, in two or three years, MMA is definitely something I'll look to jump into with both hands and feet," Haye told Fighters Only. "I've already got a grounding in the sport and have been working on the foundations for around six years now. The kickboxing side of things comes fairly naturally to me as I did kickboxing before boxing."-David Haye (quote appeared on

If David Haye connects with 4 ounce MMA gloves, that could be tantamount to slaughter. While I am not a sadist, I would pay to watch it.

Good striking is still the key to any fighting, and MMA is much more apt to produce one punch knockouts because of the small gloves. Putting 4-ounce gloves on Haye would be like letting Alex Rodriguez play baseball with an aluminum bat.

Injustice of the Week

The injustice of the week (tongue in cheek) is that the Nathan’s Famous Hotdog contest ran over the 60-minute time, and my DVR cutoff the winning interview with Joey Chestnut. After eating 59 hot dogs in regulation, Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi went into overtime, and Chestnut barely edged Kobayashi in a five hot dog eat off. That crucial eat off caused the broadcast to run long, and DVR’ers around the nation will be disappointed when they realize that ESPN did not plan for extended play.

Normally, when I record a sporting event, I allow for extra time, but who knew that hot dog eating contests had overtime??

Non-Boxing Thoughts

I returned to Boston last week for the first time in a couple of years, and I was amazed at how the Big Dig has transformed the City. I used to live in South Boston (Southie), and I remember how the elevated highway used to isolate parts of the city.

Boston has always been very walkable and scenic, and the addition of the greenery near the financial district, the new path to the North End and the Wharf, as well as the green line no longer running over Causeway street, has elevated Boston’s beauty to new heights. While many of my old haunts are gone, I was pleased to see that Jose Macs’ was still there, complete with a renovation and a now envious location next to the beautiful Greenery that replaced Route 93.

All it took was several billion dollars, political haggling, major cost overruns, accusations of corruption and about 10 years to get the job done, but I think it was actually worth it. While future generations will likely never think twice about the beautiful surroundings that replaced the highway and the elevated T, hopefully, they will appreciate them.

Duddy vs. Howe Fight Report

In front of a standing room only crowd, at the venerable Castle in Boston’s theater district, Duddy looked to showcase himself for a title shot. Duddy appeared more relaxed than in his previous bouts, and he casually entered the ring to the sounds of hip-hop rather than bagpipes. The scaled-down approach seemed to work, as Duddy, literally shutout Howe over ten rounds.

From the opening bell, Duddy dominated the night. In the first round, Duddy opened up to the body, and he ripped a hard double left hook. Duddy landed a right hand to the body, at the bell. Howe looked to be in good shape, and he certainly came to fight, but Duddy showcased an improved arsenal in the second. On one occasion, Duddy feinted his way in and rocked how with a hard shot. Howe looked to be on his way out, as Duddy pumped two stiff jabs into his face, but the tough Ohioan recovered and survived the round.

In the third stanza, Duddy opened with a left to the body, and then he landed a two-punch combination that brought the crowd to its feet. Howe came back with a hard right hand that briefly halted Duddy’s advance, but Duddy closed the round with a good flurry.

The fourth round saw Duddy land some good jabs, but the pace slowed. In the fifth, Duddy landed a crushing left, and he snapped Howe’s head back. The sixth was perhaps Duddy’s best round, as he landed a vicious uppercut that sent fluid flying into the seats. Duddy then battered Howe against the ropes, and he looked close to getting a knockout. However, Howe stayed upright and continued on.

The latter part of the fight proved to still be all Duddy, as he controlled the pace. Duddy boxed again in the seventh and landed a hard, straight right hand at the bell, and in the eighth Duddy trapped Howe against the ropes twice. It was at this time that I noticed a text message on my phone from former Cruiserweight Star Seamus McDonagh, asking me how the bout was going. I replied, “8th round, John is shutting him out”.

The ninth round saw a slight setback for Duddy, as he appeared to be cut over his right eye from a left hook. However, the cut was a nonfactor, and Duddy cruised through the tenth. Duddy was totally in control, and he went for the knockout, as he clearly sat down on his punches and loaded up on Howe.

Duddy even played to the crowd for a brief moment, but Howe, to his credit, survived the onslaught. The final scores were 100-90 (3x) for Duddy, as he indeed shutout Howe. The 29 year-old Duddy moved to 25-0, 17 KO’s, while the 33 year-old Howe dropped to 17-5-2, 9 KO’s.

Overall, a good night of boxing was produced by Irish Ropes Promotions, and even though all of the A side fighters won, the bouts were mostly competitive. Donny Orr, Edwin Rodriguez, Mark Clancy and Anthony Accardi all came away with victories, in a night that saw every bout go the distance.

Reader Submissions

I will be taking reader submissions and answering them in this space. Please e-mail me at with questions and commentary, and we will include as many as we can. Please include your first name and hometown for publication and type the word “Column” in the subject line.

*This column is inspired by the premier novel of the twentieth century, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway spoke highly of the sport of boxing, and he participated as both a fighter and a referee. Every other week this column will humbly pay homage to the man who helped glorify the fight game back in its early stages. With a little hard work, the Sun Will Rise Again for Boxing, as together we can restore the sport to the top, one fan at a time. Thank You for reading the column.

Article posted on 05.07.2008

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