NEW YORK (Dec. 10, 2005) – Since coming to the United States from Northern Ireland and settling in Queens, John Duddy has attracted a tremendous fan following, not just because he is undefeated, but because he fights with great heart, never leaving anything in the ring. His warrior style has caught the eye of boxing writers and fans alike, ever on the lookout for hot prospects, and also another Irish fighter of some repute, Wayne McCullough.
His growing legion of followers, including McCullough, will be watching Duddy with keen interest live on pay per view on Global Warfare presented by Warriors Boxing Promotions on Thursday night, Dec. 15, from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Duddy, unbeaten in 13 career pro fights, faces his sternest test when he squares off against Emiliano Cayetano (12-0) in middleweight action.
McCullough, a former world champion and Olympic silver medalist who has battled with some of the biggest and hardest punching names in boxing, has watched the 26-year-old middleweight in the ring, and likes what he sees.
“I think he could be the next Wayne McCullough and become a world champion,” McCullough says. “John made the right move coming over here.”
Duddy has also caught the eye of longtime HBO boxing analyst, Larry Merchant, who saw the young middleweight fight in New York.
“Duddy has a crowd-pleasing style that could explode into something big if it turns out he can compete on the highest level,” Merchant said.
Duddy compiled a 100-30 amateur record in Ireland, but had loftier goals, probably because he had been exposed at an early age to some of the best Irish professionals. Duddy’s father Mickey, a pro lightweight in the early ‘80s, had taken his five-year-old son to the gym to watch him spar with the likes of former world champions Barry “The Clones Cyclone.” McGuigan and Ken Buchanan, as well as ex-European title holder Charlie Nash. Seeing McGuigan in the ring had a profound effect on the youngster.
“I met Barry in the gym when my father sparred with him, and I knew that’s who I wanted to be,” Duddy said.
Eager to get on with his dream to become a professional world champion, Duddy made the move to America, teaming up with trainer Harry Keitt at the Irish Ropes Gym in Far Rockaway, while joining the McLouglin Brothers management team.
Although Duddy has won 12 of his 13 fights by knockout, he was never noted as a puncher in his amateur days. Duddy credits Keitt for his transformation.
An old school kind of trainer, Keitt has had his young pro work with strength conditioners and also introduced him to a technique used by the likes of Jack Dempsey and many others of a different era.
“At the end of training every day we spend twenty minutes hitting big old truck tires with a sledge hammer,”Duddy said. “The old time fighters used to chop trees, but there aren’t too many available to chop down in New York without getting arrested.”
Along with success and a growing legion of fans, have come complications: pressure from the hype, the same kind of thing McCullough experienced.
“I was able to handle the pressure because I’d had it in my amateur days,” said McCullough. Duddy uses a technique of sort of zoning out of the hoopla to keep his mind on business.
“I was able to handle the pressure because I'd had it in my amateur days,” McCullough added, whose recently released autobiography – “POCKET ROCKET” – is the #2 bestseller in Ireland.
“With the reception I’ve been getting over here, and with all the Irish coming out to support me, it’s very easy to get distracted,” Duddy said. “I block it all out until after the fight and I think that’s my way of handling it.”
Duddy has not let his surging success go to his head — or cloud his vision of his ultimate goal, a world championship.
“In boxing, you are only as good as your next fight,” Duddy said. “I’ve still got a lot to learn and we’re trying to take me up to another level each time I fight. I take it one fight at a time, and I don’t care who my opponent is or where we fight. As long as I’m fighting and keep fit, I know I’ll be up for the challenge.”