Shortly after being knocked down four times and stopped in the fourth round by the red-hot middleweight prospect “Irish” John Duddy, now 13-0 (12 KOs), at the Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan on November 4, Bryon Mackie of Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, was beaten but unbowed.
Although his face was grotesquely bruised from the countless jabs he had taken from Duddy, Mackie was surprisingly honest and analytical as he paced around his dressing room like a wounded tiger.
“Irish guys always come to fight,” said the 31-year-old Mackie, a quintessential journeyman who usually campaigns as a junior middleweight and who took the fight on six days notice. “My eyes are a little tender, but otherwise I’m okay. I didn’t think I was taking that much punishment. I’ve gotten beaten up worse in some fights that I won.”
As a pretty New York State Athletic Commission doctor examined his nose, Mackie told her that he stopped feeling pain in it many years ago. The doctor told him he could always get it straightened out, but Mackie joked that he didn’t have the money and even if he did he would decline to do so.
Once he gets it fixed, he knows that his wife would forbid him from boxing anymore. And he’s not quite ready to give up the sport he has loved since he began throwing leather at the age of 12.
“I’ve had a long career, but I just started making some decent money,” said Mackie who has tangled with, among others, Hector Camacho Jr., Ray Oliveira, Alex Hilton, Ronald Weaver, and Fitz Vanderpool (twice).
The light-hitting Mackie, 25-12 (8 KOs), who had reached Duddy with numerous right hand leads, was unable to hurt the offensive minded Irishman. Yet, he was still surprised at how easy Duddy was to hit.
“He is a very physically strong guy, but I don’t think he could have knocked me out,” said Mackie. “His best weapon was his jab, which stung me every time it landed. The body punches didn’t really bother me. I was just sucking wind because I wasn’t in the best of shape.”
What Mackie found most frustrating was the fact that he believes he had the recipe to outfox Duddy, but didn’t have the firepower or the timing to pull the trigger because of Duddy’s relentlessness.
“Guys like him are used to knocking guys out, so they don’t think about defense very much,” said Mackie. “The holes were there and if I was sharper I could have taken advantage of the situation.
“A win over him would have transformed my career,” he continued. “But I take my hat off to him. I’ve fought ex-champions and guys that were 30-1 and didn’t get roughed up the way he roughed me up.”
Although Mackie entered the Duddy fight having scored three straight knockout victories in his native country, he understands the business well enough to know that he was only expected to put up some obligatory resistance before being pole-axed by the rampaging Duddy, who gets the turnstiles moving whenever and wherever he fights. Still, neither Mackie, nor any of those close to him, are ready to call it quits just yet.
“Bryon is the most honest guy in boxing,” said his good friend and adviser, the Boston-based Mike Nosky. “He had his moments against Duddy. I was starting to wonder if just maybe the American Dream could happen to a Canadian kid.”
The day after the fight Mackie returned home to his wife Jodi and two daughters, Brooklyn, 4, and Maycie, 1. He resumed training fighters, including three national amateur champions, at the Big Tyme Fitness Center in his hometown. By the time you read this, the swelling in his face will have gone down and he’ll be ready to accept another fight, most likely on short notice against a local hero in a faraway city.
For a guy who once fought Camacho Jr. on 26 hours notice, Mackie, who turned pro in 1993, is frustrated that even at this point of his career he is more often than not at the mercy of others.
The only concession, he says, is that he now usually fights for nothing less than $10,000.
“I don’t like taking fights on less than a few weeks notice, but right now I’m at the point of my career where everything is strictly business,” he explained. “I have a family to take care of, so I can’t be that selective. I’m a workingman fighter, and workingman fighters don’t get to make all that many decisions.
“You have to go where the action is,” he added. “In this case the action was in New York. As long as I can still be competitive, I’ll continue fighting. But tonight, I have to admit, I’ve never been dominated like that.”