Duddy’s options explored

21 January 2009 – By David Boyle

With John Duddy set to return to action in March, David Boyle looks at what opportunities may lie ahead for the unbeaten Derryman.

Like many Irish fighters, 2009 can become a great year for American-based Irishman John Duddy. Undefeated, popular and exciting, the future looked bright for Duddy entering 2008. However, serious cuts and difficulties behind meant the year will be one which Duddy will want to quickly forget.

After all, a mega fight with world middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik was on the cards, after Duddy brilliantly outworked Howard Eastman at the sold out Kings Hall, Belfast in December 2007.

Disaster was to strike on February 23, though. With Bob Arum, Pavlik’s promoter at ringside in Madison Square Garden, Duddy had to look good against the little known Walid Smichet.

Boxing well within his capabilities, Duddy escaped with his unbeaten record, but his stock had fallen dramatically and serious tissue damage around his eyes scruppered his hopes of a crack at The Ghost.

A move to the light-middleweight division followed, and talk of a shot at IBF champion Vernon Phillips intensified. However, when the fight failed to materialise Duddy’s relationship with his promotional and managerial team began to collapse.

With those difficulties seemingly resolved (or at least in the process of being resolved!) and Duddy free to move on with his career, it is time to look ahead to what avenues the returning star will exploit.

As for the big fights, there are plenty out there, namely WBO interim champion Paul Williams and WBA champion Daniel Santos, who famously rose from the floor to KO Ireland’s very own Neil Sinclair in the second round of a WBO welterweight scrap in 2000.

Given Duddy’s inactivity, looking outside the title frame is the most likely course of action.

And there are plenty of big name contenders out there for the picking. Names like Ronald Hearns, the Legend Tommy Hearns son, big punching James Kirkland, and even Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would put the Duddy brand back in the public eye.

In this sport timing is everything and having put his difficulties behind him, John Duddy’s time may yet still come.

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