By Dan Fitz-Simons – When John Duddy enters the Alamodome in San Antonio on June 26th to a capacity crowd of 15,000; most of the seats will be filled by fanatical Chavez Jr. fans, who live within a stone’s throw of the Mexican border. Duddy, 29-1 (18KOs) is on a rebound from his only defeat to Billy Lyell in 2009. Yet the fact that his last 3 wins were all against fighters of Mexican descent (Munoz, Astorga, and Medina) was no accident. Thanks to Top Rank’s promoter, Bob Arum, Duddy is now known and despised by thousands of Mexican fans, who will pay top dollar to watch their young hero humiliate the arrogant Irishman..
The undefeated 24-year old Chavez Jr. 41-0-1 (30KOs) is training under Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym solely for the Duddy match. Yet Freddie may have his hands full with young Julio, who sometimes looks as though he’s bored in the ring. Nevertheless, if Chavez becomes committed to Roach’s techniques, he could present a formidable challenge to Duddy. Julio’s 41 wins is an accomplishment, and at 24, he still has time to improve. He also has a crowd-pleasing Mexican temper, and if cornered can explode, blasting his way out with both hands. Craig Hamilton, Duddy’s manager, thinks Chavez will be John’s toughest opponent.
However, Chavez also has some unresolved problems. Mike Quarry once complained that he had to spend his entire career in the shadow of his brother Jerry. Julio Jr. has a similar burden; only in his case it’s his legendary father. In addition, he has several tactical flaws including: lack of hand speed, low work output, careless defense, limited punching power, and a nagging weight problem. Although Julio likes to fight in close, he’s sometimes lethargic, opening himself up to dangerous counter punches. Moreover, while his resume is impressive at first glance, many of his opponents were cherry-picked B and C level fighters.
Chavez is ranked a little ahead of Duddy by Boxrec; however, both are roughly at the same level, which makes for an interesting contest. Both Duddy and Chavez have fought Matt Vanda, but Duddy defeated Vanda more easily. The best punch for both fighters is the left hook. Duddy has slowly climbed back up in world rankings: the WBO lists him at #14, the WBC at #8. His new ratings are not due to any outstanding talent, but rather to the fact that he fights a lot. As a result, Duddy should be in prime condition. His boxing skills have improved, his problem with cuts has diminished, and he has an iron jaw.
Duddy usually does well against sluggers like Chavez and won’t hesitate to mix it up on the inside. He has a dangerous upper cut that could cause Julio problems. While not a banger, Duddy is a solid boxer-puncher, as was evidenced by his 1st round KO of Juan Astorga. Moreover, Julio’s stand-up style could set up an easy target for Duddy’s body shots. On the other hand, Duddy’s speed and footwork are only adequate, he lacks lateral movement, and still takes too many head shots. Harry Keitt, Duddy’s trainer, envisions a bloody slugfest with the Derry Destroyer emerging the clear winner. We’ll soon see if he’s right.