by James Slater – Exciting middleweight John Duddy remains unbeaten at 25-0(17), but the Irishman came close to losing the zero at the end of his record in his February 2008 fight against the little known Walid Smichet. Due to the brawling, care-nothing-about-defence approach he had won many fans over with, the 29-year-old was hit plenty by Smitchet and suffered horrendous cuts also. His showing, while thrilling, was so poor it instantly ruled him out of a strongly suggested crack at world middleweight king Kelly Pavlik for his next outing..
Now, however, with new trainer Pat Burns in his corner, Duddy says he is a much better fighter – one who is capable of using his boxing brain and not just marching in in a reckless fashion. This proved to be the case in Duddy’s only bout after the tough one against Smichet, when he cleverly out-pointed Charles Howe in June of last year.
Going up against the tough and dangerous Matt Vanda on this Saturday’s Cotto-Jennings bill in New York, Duddy says he is planning on doing more smart boxing. This time, with a Pavlik fight very much back on the cards (according to Pavlik’s trainer Jack Loew on yesterday’s Bunce Boxing Hour on Setanta, who said they’d “probably go for Duddy next,” after tomorrow’s fight against Rubio), Duddy will be hoping not to ruin it by ending up looking like he’s been through a meat grinder.
Speaking about the fight against “The Predator,” Duddy revealed his planned tactics.
“I’m looking to carry on what I did against Charles Howe – using my brain, getting that live or die attitude out of me,” Duddy said. “There are times in certain fights where I’m sure that will have to come out but you don’t have to go looking for it. I should be using my jab a lot more, using my footwork and my head movement a lot more.
“Against Matt Vanda I think it’s got the makings of a great contest.”
And though Duddy says he plans to box more, he is still sure Saturday’s fight will have its share of fireworks for the paying fans.
“I would think there’s probably the potential that he would want to draw me into [a brawl] that I wouldn’t want to be drawn into,” Duddy said. “Then again, it’s all about your composure and self control. I think with the two of our styles there’s going to be fireworks.
“In my fights where I’ve actually used my jab I’ve dominated them and made a fairly easy night’s work for myself. Then there’s the other nights when I just get stupid and forget the jab and just wing it out and I make things very, very hard for myself. At the end of the day, boxing’s hard enough without adding to it, so I’m looking forward to hopefully having a great time on Saturday night.”
So too are the many fans Duddy has. Should he win in style, this time the mega fight for him against Kelly Pavlik may finally get made.