The son of the original Hitman stands in the way of John Duddy getting his coveted world title opportunity.
New York-based Duddy will take on fellow unbeaten prospect Ronald Hearns, son of the great Tommy Hearns, in January with the winner going on to box for a version of the World light-middleweight title.
“This is the statement fight to show television and the world sanctioning bodies that John is ready for the world title shot. The winner will probably be the mandatory challenger for a world title shot,” said Duddy’s manager, Eddie McLoughlin.
Before then, Duddy will box on November 6 at Westbury, Long Island in a ten-rounder rather than a fight on Irish soil which had been mooted as McLoughlin had provisionally booked the King's Hall for November 29.
Clearly the proposed fight with IBF light-middle king Verno Phillips is now dead as the champion’s promoter Art Pelulo failed to come up with a package to stage the fight.
Such is the magnitude of Duddy-Hearns, which will be screened on American cable network Showtime, the Ulsterman was unable to have a major fight at home.
McLoughlin explained: “We would love to do a fight in Belfast but when the Hearns offer came up it was just too good a chance for John.
“So we have set him up for a show on November 6 against a good opponent, another good test at light-middle, before the big one with Hearns which is, in effect, a world title eliminator.
“Hearns is a very good, strong fighter and, like his dad, he’s tall and rangy so it’s not going to be easy but this is the kind of fight that makes everyone stand up and take notice.
“We have spoken to Lou DiBella who looks after Hearns and it’s all stations go for the fight. It’s a huge one for both fighters.
“They are both unbeaten - Hearns will have a couple more fights in between before they meet - and both guys come to fight, so it’s an exciting prospect.”
Lisburn heavyweight Scott Belshaw returns to the ring tomorrow night when he takes on Pavol Polakovic of the Czech Republic in the York Hall, Bethnal Green.
Promoter Frank Maloney is handing Belshaw is first eight rounder and expects him to continue to show improvement having worked with new coach Brian Lawrence for three months.
“I feel that Scott is now working and living like a true professional. He’s based over here in London now and he’s working very well,” said Maloney.
“It’s a long process developing a heavyweight but he’s making good progress.”
Meanwhile, Maloney, who manages European super-bantamweight champion Rendall Munroe, has come under fire from Bernard Dunne’s promoter Brian Peters.
Maloney has said that he made a very good offer for Dunne to challenge for his old title but turned it down, to which Peters retorted: The offer I made to him for Rendall to defend against Bernard was more than double their offer and would have been easily the biggest payday of Munroe’s career. So by Frank's rationale I'm sure he'd admit that the offer he rejected, was very, very, substantial.”