John Duddy Continues to Tread Water Against Faded Veterans

John Duddy03.08.06 - By John Way, photo by Wray Edwards / ESB - A capable and charismatic performer, "Ireland's" John Duddy is perhaps boxing's most popular prospect. Although clearly blessed with athleticism, a solid chin, and some serious crunch in his punch, the jury is still out on the young middleweight, unable to decide where he fits into the rich Irish-boxing tradition: whether he's the next John L. Sullivan, or the next Christy Elliot. Hopefully boxing fans will gain a measure of insight when Duddy squares off against Luis Ramon "Yory Boy" Campas in September.

Duddy's busy schedule is commendable, but it's a mystery why his management team would select such morose opposition for his continued progression to contender status. Following sensational early wins against the likes of Lenord Pierre, Victor Paz, and Pat Coleman, it would seem that he's heading for a career anticlimax thanks to such timid matchmaking.. Since the televised win against Coleman (who has seen better days), Duddy has failed to make headway, feasting on the likes of Joseph Brady, Wilmer Meija, and late-notice sub, Byron Mackie. It's hard to imagine what Campas will bring to the table that Duddy hasn't seen already.

To be fair, Campas is one of the most experienced fighters in boxing today, and, thanks to some high profile fights against Fernando Vargas, Oscar De La Hoya, and Tony Ayala, he has solid name recognition value outside the hardcore boxing scene. That being said, Yory Boy is more than a decade removed from his career best performance, when he had Felix Trinidad all but gone in a superb, blood-soaked epic. These days you can time his punches with a sundial as he goes life and death with amateurish foozebags like Raul Munoz. Essentially, Campas, who fought for his first world title at 147lbs, offers the same appeal as did similarly undersized Alfredo Cuevas: a slow moving, durable opponent, a little too small, a little too slow, a little too shot to present much danger.

Although Campas' bio lists him as only 34 years old, his ring age is closer to 54. With an 88-8 (72) professional record, Yory Boy, a face first brawler, probably ate more punches in seven rounds against De La Hoya, than Duddy has absorbed in his entire career up to this point. As tough as he is, it seems that Campas can no longer convince his body to throw punches in bunches, and even his trademark right hand has lost virtually all its former snap. Relegated to trouncing no-hoppers like Miguel Hernandez, Campas is a stepping stone's stepping stone. A novelty, only a year or two away from being the next Hector Camacho: a fighter who has long overstayed his welcome. Billed as the next great Irish fighter, Duddy is already enormously popular thanks to his heritage in addition to a slam bang fighting style.

The Irish Ropes Promotional team realizes that John can bring in crowds of 5,000+ even against poor fighters like Campas, and it seems they're fully prepared to take advantage of that commercial angle. Truth be told, that's smart business. It's just a crying shame that John isn't being tested against quality fighters like he should be in preparation for an eventual title shot against undisputed champion Jermain Taylor. As long as he continues to rack up inconsequential wins against short-notice, weak-chinned, or shopworn opponents, Duddy will continue to stagnate from an apparent lack of challenge.

A suitable alternative to beating up on rocking chair relics like Campas would be a high profile ShoBox appearance against the likes of Willie Gibbs, Giovanni Lorenzo, or even former contender contestant, Joey Gilbert. First made popular by his thrilling losing effort to Daniel "The Haitian Sensation" Eduard, Gibbs shares a common opponent with Campas: Andres Pacheco. Whereas Campas was only spared a loss by virtue of a bad decision, the Philadelphia Gladiator splattered the South American across the canvas in two short rounds. Earlier this year, Gibbs added another fight of the year candidate to his record by stopping Lenord Pierre with seven seconds left in the final round. Interestingly, Pierre was subdued by Duddy in one round in 2005 in what remains his only demanding test (on paper) to date.

Duddy has already made his mastery of 3rd tier fighters obvious, so why should he continue clubbing baby seals, when more lucrative, challenging, and exciting fights are just a telephone call away? Regardless, the time is soon approaching for him to take a leaf out of Lucian Bute's handbook, and begin facing athletes of his own immense capabilities, instead of handpicked clubfighters. Comments and questions are welcome below.

Article posted on 04.08.2006

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