The Resurrection of John Duddy

By Dan Fitz-Simons - You’d never guess from the lack of media coverage that John Duddy was back as a middleweight contender. Indeed, Duddy’s almost nonchalant defeat of Michi Munoz at the Garden last week hardly raised an eyebrow among boxing aficionados. That could be a mistake. The once over-hyped “Derry Destroyer” won every round without being seriously threatened. More importantly, his piston-like left jab, one of the best in the middleweight division, was still evident, as was Duddy’s superb conditioning and stamina. However, it took the first three rounds for John to shake off the ring rust he had accumulated since his only career loss to Billy Lyell six months ago. Duddy suffered a bloody nose from Munoz in the first round, but aside from that minor injury, he appeared unscathed. By the middle rounds the old spark had returned, and Duddy again became an offensive-minded slugger with a snap in his punches..

Duddy’s victory over Munoz has pushed his record up to an impressive 27-1(17 KOs). At the age of 30, he is in his prime and believes he still has plenty of gas in the tank. However, the question remains as to whether or not he can he still go the distance as he did with Campas, Smichet, Eastman, and Vanda. Nevertheless, Duddy has gotten over the split-decision loss to Lyell, explaining that he was distracted and depressed by his legal battle with Irish Ropes, his upcoming wedding, and too many different training sites under the tutelage of Don Turner and Pat Burns. Duddy has always been smitten by the Big Apple, and New Yorkers in turn have remained loyal to him. Indeed, it’s hard not to like the smiling Irishman with the easy-going personality, who is constantly upbeat, fights clean, and seldom utters a disrespectful word against opponents.

Duddy’s fans are happy to see Harry Keit back in his corner. They want their old brawler back, even if it means a risky defense and facial cuts. No more fancy dancing, just a loud smack to the opponent’s head. Many believe that Burns tried to turn an aggressive slugger into a defensive boxer. The result was a loss to Lyell with Duddy fighting as though he was in a straight jacket. But with Keit back in John’s corner, his fans are expecting slugfests with someone going down. One New Yorker who is excited about having Duddy back at the Garden is Top Rank promoter, Bob Arum. The Derry man has crowd appeal which translates into large purses. Duddy is a sharp puncher, who fights frequently and always shows up in top condition; the fight crowd instinctively senses action. There’s also Irish determination combined with an iron jaw. It would take an anvil to keep Duddy down on the canvass.

Ironically, Duddy’s future seems to have brightened after his one loss. There’s talk of an event in Cancun in December with Duddy and Chavez Jr. on the same card. If John and Julio both win, they fight one another in the Garden on St. Patrick’s Day; the winner getting a shot at the title. Neither Duddy nor Chavez Jr. is at Pavlik’s level, but they’re both crowd pleasers, and a brawl between them would draw a huge gate. Young Julio gets down-right mean when cornered, and the contest could easily escalate into a war. If the Chavez Jr. prospect falls through there’s also Neil (“Sinky”) Sinclair. Duddy was supposed to fight the Irish light-middleweight champion last summer, and Frank Warren might still be tempted to match-up the two Ulstermen. Irish fans paying big Euros would flock into Belfast by the bus load. Whatever happens, Duddy is back with a lucrative future and a contract that tells him how much he earns, and that’s good for the sport of boxing. Welcome back John.

Article posted on 14.10.2009

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