Belfast Telegraph

Boxing: Duddy keen to show he's raising his game

By David Kelly

John Duddy stands on the brink of a pay-day that he could only have dreamed about when left these shores to follow his American dream.

World champion Kelly Pavlik, the man who beat 'the man' (Jermain Taylor) as they say in boxing, awaits in January. Promoter Bob Arum has said he expects the fight to go ahead, though the ink still has to be signed on contracts.

It is an opportunity to turn the head of any fighter but Duddy says he is not falling into the trap of taking his eye off the job in hand and that is tomorrow night's fight in Dublin with Manchester's Prince Arron, a late substitute who should be cut down to size with little trouble.

But for the 28-year-old Londonderry man tomorrow night is not simply about victory, it is also about showing how in the past four months he has moved on and matured as a fighter having been working with new coach Don Turner - a coach to many world champions, including Evander Holyfield and Larry Holmes.

The work has been going on in the Poconos Mountains, where he is sometimes grateful for poor reception on his mobile phone such is the demand from various media outlets.

Being away from the news of world title chances and the expectations that are growing around him is just what suits Duddy coming up to a big fight.

"The Poconos camp is just fantastic for me. The most exciting thing up here is going to the local store or really going crazy and going to the library," says Duddy, who meets 19-year-old Arron in Dublin's National Stadium.

"I'm able to get away from everything and just focus on my boxing and it has been great because I have been taking in so much from Don and I want to show that in the ring in Dublin.

"Even the way I stand in the ring has changed, working at angle that will help me to slip punches, much in the same way that (former world champion) James Toney did.

"I know that my defence has to improve and Don has worked on that and already in sparring I can see the changes. The sparring is more intense but not as many rounds as maybe I would have done before. Don doesn't believe that sparring is about having war but about learning and I feel that I have learned a lot."

While Duddy is trying to put the talk of the Pavlik showdown to the back of his mind, he is all too aware of the enormity of the battle in terms of his purse and world exposure.

"Look it's nice to be in that frame and to be thought of as a challenger to Pavlik. There was talk about us fighting before he beat Taylor so I guess it's natural now that the fight is being mentioned. And whenever the fight is you can bet on one thing, I'll be ready," he added.

"But right throughout my career I have taken things one fight at a time. I just have to win my next fight and then see what is next. I just fight whoever my management put in front of me. They take care of business outside of the ring and I take care of business on the ring. It's worked up to now and hopefully it will continue to work.

"It's certainly exciting times and it's good to know that I have someone like Don Turner in my corner for a world title fight when it comes along because he has been there and done it all.

"Now I'm just really looking forward to getting back in the ring in Dublin because the atmosphere the last time in the National Stadium was just amazing and I'm sure it'll be the same and you can't beat fighting at home."

Those fans waiting to see their hero chalk up another win on the path to a shot at WBC champion Pavlik should not be disappointed.

Then Duddy can truly start pondering just how he can rock the world in 2008.

Belfast Telegraph

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