31.10.07 – By Matthew Hurley: Irish middleweight John Duddy will take on veteran contender Howard Eastman on December 8th at King’s Hall in Belfast Northern Ireland. Duddy, 22-0 with 17 KOs last fought on October 20th when he stopped Prince Arron in the second round. Eastman, 42-5 with 35 KOs last fought on September 28th dropping a unanimous decision and losing his British Commonwealth middleweight boxing title to Wayne Elcock.
Duddy had recently been mentioned as a possible opponent for middleweight Kelly Pavlick in January but that potential match up was delayed when Jermain Taylor invoked his rematch clause with Pavlik and the two rivals will square off in a rematch at the catch-weight of 166 pounds.
Duddy could barley contain his enthusiasm for the match with Eastman because it will take place in King’s Hall where the Irishman maintains a rabid following. “It doesn’t get much better than facing off against a fighter with Eastman’s reputation at King’s Hall,” he said. “I know he’s a very tough opponent with an amazing record. He’s a very dangerous man.”
At this stage in Eastman’s career that could be debatable. At thirty-six years old he has lost several of his last important fights in succession including two unanimous decision defeats at the hands of Bernard Hopkins and Arthur Abraham and a seventh round TKO loss to Edison Miranda.
Still, Duddy has not exactly faced world class competition and when he did step up against a far from prime Yori Boy Campas he found himself in a life and death struggle that he eventually won on a unanimous decision. Eastman, still a wily veteran, could answer a few more questions as to how far along Duddy has progressed since he turned professional in 2003.
“A win against Duddy and I am back on the road to another world title shot,” Eastman said. “That’s what this game is all about, a title shot. On December 8th I’ll beat this golden boy.”
Duddy, whose engaging personality has enhanced his popularity seems to be more focused on the venue than the man who will try to derail his own title shot bid. However, he does offer Eastman praise when ruminating on King’s Hall.
“When I was a kid I sat and watched Barry McGuigan at King’s Hall and they were such great nights. Now I have the chance to perform on that stage against a guy who has a lot of experience. I’m sure he’ll bring out the best in me.”
Should Duddy get past Eastman and should Kelly Pavlik repeat his victory over Jermain Taylor on January 26th at the Boardwalk Convention Hall in Atlantic City the two fighters could meet at Madison Square Garden in June, which has tentatively been set aside.