Belfast Telegraph

Duddy success to spark revival

Middleweight contenders John Duddy, left, and Matt Vanda attend a news conference ahead of their boxing match tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, New York
Middleweight contenders John Duddy, left, and Matt Vanda attend a news conference ahead of their boxing match tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, New York

For many fighters a relatively short notice, high profile ten rounder would not be countenanced, but that isn't John Duddy's way.

Arriving at a press conference for his King's Hall fight in December 2007, he swaggered in and catching a glimpse of former world title challenger Howard Eastman wondered why he happened to be there. "You're fighting him" he was quickly informed. A shrug of the shoulders and Duddy sat down as if he'd just been told Bambi was going to be in the opposite corner.

Having been out of the ring for eight months, Duddy returns tomorrow night to face Matt Vanda at Madison Square Garden over ten rounds.

Considering what happened almost a year to the day in the Garden in 2008, when Duddy's face was left a mess by journeyman Walid Smichet, it does seem at the very least to be a small gamble for the unbeaten Ulsterman to be pitched in with rugged Vanda.

Vanda's record may have eight losses on it, but that shouldn't mask the fact that he is one tough hombre and has already given light-middlweight prospect Julio Cesar Chavez jnr two gruelling duels before losing on points.

Duddy's desire for action and to put 2008 behind him burns with a passion. The legal wrangle with former promoter Irish Ropes rumbles on, while his world title aspirations are in need of a boost.

"I just can't wait to get back to what I do best. I've been out of the ring too long. When I started my career I had to suffer ten months out of the ring due to a visa problem and now I've been out for a long time again," said Duddy.

"Vanda's a tough guy and I know what to expect from him. He's going to be in my face and I'll be ready for him.

"I'm glad that I can focus again on boxing and that my career is now in my hands. It's good to be back and on a big show like this."

Duddy-Vanda is part of the supporting bill on this Bob Arum show which is headed by the vacant WBO welterweight title clash between Miguel Cotto and England's Michael Jennings.

Cotto is coming back from a WBA title defeat, the first of his career, but on paper it looks a mismatch and Duddy-Vanda is more than likely to be the fight of the night.

Arum, a promoter of numerous world champions, knows all too well the marketability of New York's adopted son and he would be keen to strike a promotional deal with Duddy, whose appearance on the card has helped ticket sales.

"One thing about John," Arum said. "If he is successful against Matt Vanda he would stare at a vista of possibilities.

"There is a possible fight with Yuri Foreman which would sell out Madison Square Garden. Foreman is a top local fighter, also undefeated and a matchup with John would be tremendous.

"Julio Cesar Chavez Jr fights again on March 28 in Tijuana. If Julio is successful there and John is successful here, who knows, they might be fighting as early as this summer and that is a major, major fight.

"And of course on this card, we go to Youngstown where Kelly defends his title and if he wins, wouldn't it be spectacular to have Kelly's next title defence against John here in Madison Square Garden?"

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