By Ciaran Harrison: When undefeated middleweight John Duddy (23-0, 17 KOs), the pride of Derry, Ireland, enters the ring on the 23rd of February as part of the undercard to Klitscho/Ibragimov heavyweight unification showdown in Madison Square Garden, what essentially is at stake will be the chance to challenge the undefeated middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. June 7th has been mooted as the potential date for a Duddy/Pavlik contest, and promoter Bob Arum has made no secret that he believes the undefeated, charismatic Duddy, 28, is the right opponent for Pavlik’s first defence of his WBC/WBO belts..
But first things first, Duddy needs not only to defeat his opponent Walid Smichet (17-3-3, 13 KOs) on Saturday night, but beat him impressively. The 28 year-old Montreal based Tunisian Smichet comes with an impressive record of wins and a high knockout percentage, his best being a KO victory over Matt O’Brien for the interim Canadian middleweight title in March 2007, although Smichet subsequently lost this title to former middleweight International Boxing Federation title challenger Sebastian Demers in Smichet’s first title defence.
Duddy is brimming with confidence after a hard fought 10-round win over veteran Howard Eastman at the atmospheric Kings Hall, Belfast last time out in December 2007. “There’s a lot of interest in my career back home and a lot of people are flying in to watch this fight. After the Howard Eastman fight, I’m confident of getting into the ring with any body in the world,” confided Duddy in a recent interview.
Duddy is expected to win by most ring observers, mostly because Smichet is a no-frills, come forward brawler, and is essentially one-dimensional. Though Smichet has a high workrate, he’s not the type of fighter that has a plan B if he finds that his usual brawling style is ineffective. If everything works out right, Duddy should be able to add Smichet’s scalp to his increasing collection, and then hopefully move forward to what could be an epic battle against Kelly Pavlik on June 7th.