Better Than John Duddy? Meet James Moore

BY Robert Mladinich ON July 08, 2007
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Undefeated junior middleweight prospect James Moore was non-plussed by the fact that his management was having trouble securing an opponent for the main event that he will be fighting on Thursday, July 12, at Utopia’s Paradise Theater in the Bronx, New York.

On the Monday before the fight, manager Brian Burke said Chris Overbey, a journeyman from Sidney, Ohio, with an 8-6 (2 KOS) record, would be the designated opponent. Overbey’s most notable foe is Buddy McGirt Jr., who stopped him in the third round in Detroit in February 2006.

Moore (11-0, 8 KOs), the former captain of the Irish international amateur team and a veteran of over 300 amateur fights, has always maintained that he would like to be fighting other local undefeated pro prospects. While he is much too classy to disparage any opponent, he says that he doesn’t even ask manager Brian Burke or trainer Harry Keitt who he’s fighting anymore.

“I usually pay attention after the fourth or fifth name that comes up” said the 29-year-old Moore, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens. “Something always seems to happen to the first three or four opponents. I don’t even listen to the names anymore.”

Burke said that Moore, a devastating body puncher who is as much of a thinking man’s fighter as he is a bomber, is rapidly developing a fearsome reputation. That, he says, makes it extremely difficult to book opponents.

“Believe me, we are constantly on the phone trying to get solid opponents to accept fights with him,” said Burke, who as an amateur sensation a few decades ago was a protégé of the late, great Floyd Patterson. “Everyone has an excuse.”

The reality is that many people believe that Moore is perhaps too good for his own good.

One such person is Bruce Silverglade, the longtime proprietor of Gleason’s Gym, where Moore trains regularly. “James came over here to the United States with a group of Irish fighters, including John Duddy, and I’ve been impressed with all of them,” said Silverglade, who is one of the hardest people to impress in the boxing business.

“I’m actually more impressed with James than I am with John. James is a much more solid fighter. John has a more outgoing personality and his boxing style quickly made him a fan favorite. But once James gets out of John’s shadow, he’s going to be just as big of a star.”

With Duddy now campaigning in Europe, Silverglade expects Moore, and others, such as undefeated junior featherweight Paul Hyland, 8-0 (4 KOS), a native of Dublin now fighting out of New York where he is trained by Burke, to fill the void left by Duddy.

“Irish boxers have such a rich tradition in New York City,” said Silverglade. “The fans love the sport and really follow their fighters. Guys like James never disappoint them. He is much more fundamentally sound – especially defensively – than John is. John has a strong chin and a hard punch, but at some point he might get hit and not get up. James has a style much better suited for longevity.”

Moreover, said Silverglade, earlier in Moore’s career, when he was regularly knocking opponents out early, he rarely took more than a day off from the gym.

“He has a tremendous will to succeed, an incredible work ethic, and a real winner’s mentality,” said Silverglade. “Don’t let the nice guy smile fool you. He’s a real fighter, as tough as they come.”

One person who agrees wholeheartedly with that assessment is Harry Keitt, who until recently being dismissed by Team Duddy, trained the two hottest Irish prospects in New York. He is still training Moore and is certain he is headed for a championship. So high is he on Moore, he is not the least bit concerned that Moore’s upcoming marriage on August 6 will soften him one bit.

“He’ll go on his honeymoon and come back to his other wife, which is boxing,” said Keitt. “This kid is going to the top, no question about it. He’d be a lot higher right now if people didn’t keep greasing the ladder. No one wants to fight him, no one.”

Keitt said that when Moore gets the opportunity to shine, he won’t blow it the way former WBA super welterweight champion Travis Simms did before a hometown crowd in Connecticut on July 9. Fighting as if he was in a trance, he practically handed his hard-earned title over to Joachim Alcine.

“If I was training a hometown guy, I’d hide him out until two days before the fight,” said Keitt. “When you defend your title at home, there’s too much temptation. Everyone wants a piece of you. By the time the fighter gets in the ring, he’s exhausted and too tired to do what he does best.”

Burke was not so kind in his assessment of Simms’s dismal performance. “Some guys rise to the occasion, some cave in,” he said. “James will never cave in. He’s handled plenty of pressure all of his life. As the captain of the Irish team, everything was riding on his shoulders.”

Not surprisingly, Moore is only concerned with his task on Thursday night. He’s not the least bit concerned with Simms or Alcine or anyone else. His fight against Overbey, or whatever last minute replacement comes up, is foremost on his mind right now.

“I don’t look at or listen to names,” said the always cheery and engaging Moore. “I just want to keep moving my career in the right direction. I keep saying I want to fight undefeated guys. I don’t think anyone doubts that is true. But they are tough to get at this level.

“All I have to do is keep preparing 100 percent physically,” he continued. “I’m pretty sure they’ll be a good crowd on hand cheering for me, which is always good. I love the crowd. It gives me great encouragement. A fighter is always going to have his ups and downs, that’s guaranteed. But a good fighter can never forget about all the people that come to see him. That is what is really important. The fans make or break you. They are the ones who pay to see you. They deserve your best, and I will always give them my best, for me as much for them. The last thing I want is to be 35-years-old, working on a construction site, and full of regrets because I didn’t give my best.”

“John Duddy created a tidal wave with the fans here in New York,” added Burke. “But James, by the time he’s through, will have created a tsunami. If the day ever comes when we fight [undefeated Polish/American prospect] Pawel Wolak, I can’t even imagine what excitement that fight will generate.”

Thursday’s show is being promoted by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing. Also featured will be local prospects Ray Robinson, 3-0; Jon “The Fighting Marine” Schneider, 3-1 (2 KOS); heavyweight Vaughn Parham, 2-0 (2 KOS); Mike Ruiz, 2-2 (1 KO); Alicia Ashley, 13-7-1 (1 KO); Eric Hunter, 7-1 (3 KOS); and Terrell Nelson, 6-4 (4 KOS).

The Paradise Theater is located at 2417 Grand Concourse (near Fordham Road) in the Bronx. Doors open at 6:30 P.M. and the fists start flying at 7:30 P.M. Tickets range from $30 to $100 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster, 212-307-7171, or by calling Star Boxing at 718-823-6600.

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