16 April 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Peter Manfredo Jr has set his sights on a middleweight showdown with Irelands John Duddy.
The Pride of Providence has spent the last three years campaigning at 168lbs and has twice challenged for world titles.
However, he was stopped inside three rounds on both occasions: first, in 2007, by the then WBO champion Joe Calzaghe, and then by IBO titlist Sakio Bika last November.
As a result, Manfredo has now turned his attention to the middleweight division and a possible clash with the undefeated Duddy.
Duddys a great guy, an unbeaten contender and a big draw, the former Contender star mused.
We could make a lot of money for each other: Italian versus Irishman, in a great fight for fans like [Arturo] Gatti and [Micky] Ward.
And Manfredo has the perfect opportunity to set up a clash with Duddy as this weekend he will take on one of the Derry natives former foes, Walid Smichet, in Montreal.
Indeed, while Duddy managed to outpoint Smichet when they met in February of last year, the Irishman sustained cuts so severe that they scuppered his hopes of a summer showdown with middleweight king Kelly Pavlik.
As a result, Manfredo is extremely wary of the threat posed by Smichet but also knows that this is an opportunity to outshine Duddy.
Walid may not be a world champion, but hes a tough competitor who can fight,” he admitted.
Everybody saw what he did to Duddy.
The fight will take place at super-middleweight but Manfredo insists it will be his last before dropping down a division.
I only had three weeks to get ready for this fight, so making it for 168 is a trade off, I guess, for fighting this guy in his backyard, he explained.
I feel good about dropping my weight to 160. I was too small as a super-middleweight and Ill be just right at middleweight.
I wont be a huge middleweight like Kelly Pavlik, but look at Sergio Mora. I beat him our second fight; he beat me the first fight.
He won a world title at 154 and now hes fighting Pavlik for the middleweight title.
I see myself as better, or at least the equal of Mora. I know I can be world champion.