NEW YORK – The Duddy-and-Puddy show itself lasted just 1:31, and most of that minute and a half was consumed by the time it took Shelby Pudwill to repeatedly hoist himself up off the floor.
Much to the delight of a loud, raucous, and overwhelmingly Irish crowd, Ireland’s John Duddy made short work of the visitor from North Dakota at the sold-out Madison Square Garden Theatre Thursday night, finishing off his opponent before the stroke of midnight officially signaled the advent of St. Patrick’s Day.
And give this to Irish Ropes: These guys sure know how to throw a party. After hooking on with other promoters for Duddy’s first 15 fights, they embarked on their own maiden promotional voyage for his 16th, and the result was what rival promoter Lou DiBella enviously estimated to have been “the biggest-grossing club-fight show in New York boxing history.”
Duddy came away with rave reviews after his stunning, three-knockdown kayo of Pudwill, who had come to New York with a 21-2-1 record and left it an embarrassed young man.
Not thirty seconds into the bout, Duddy caught Pudwill with a solid left hook to the temple, whose effect was multiplied by the fact that he was moving forward when he threw it. Duddy kept moving and walked right over his fallen foe. It was as if he had hit him and then used him for a doormat.
“He done well to get up from that one,” recalled the middleweight from Derry. “I could see when he did get up that his legs weren’t too good, so I just let my punches go.”
In short order Pudwill was down again, but after referee Wayne Kelly administered the mandatory 8-count and allowed him to continue, Duddy smashed him with a right that thudded off the side of his head, and Kelly stopped the fight before even Pudwill hit the canvas.
The abrupt conclusion set off a wild celebration among the audience, but the ease with which he handled his opponent appeared to surprise even the protagonist himself.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to walk into Madison Square Garden and knock out a guy with 21 wins in the first round,” said Duddy.
In this case, it turned out, Pudwill couldn’t. The visitor, somewhat overmatched to begin with, could have been forgiven if he was intimidated as early as the introduction, when the audience drowned out the ring announcer with an ungodly din reminiscent of the heyday of Barry McGuigan fighting in Belfast.
His last outing, a lopsided decision over Haiti’s Julio Jean in Boston, had left some skeptics wondering if Duddy didn’t get hit too much for his own good. That wasn’t a problem on this night. Pudwill never laid a glove on him.
The announced attendance was 5,038, capacity in the Garden Theatre, and that count was probably modest. Duddy was preceded into the ring by a pipe band from Donegal. The Sam McGuire Cup – Ireland’s version of the Vince Lombardi Trophy – was even paraded into the ring by its current custodians from Tyrone. And, in lieu of scantily-clad round-card girls, Irish Ropes saw to it that that duty was performed by step-dancers in native costume.
Pudwill became the 14th of Duddy’s 16 victims to have been prematurely dispatched, and the ninth who failed to survive the first round. The Irishman won something called the WBC Continental Americas middleweight championship for his brief night’s work, and while the title itself might be insignificant, it is likely to leapfrog him several places in the world ratings.
Not everyone appears to be convinced that necessarily a beneficial career move.
“No question he can punch, and he’s a great prospect,” opined DiBella. “But I’m not sure he’s a top ten middleweight right now. That’s a problem: They (Irish Ropes) are moving him too quickly without really testing him against better opposition.
“If Duddy fought Jermain (Taylor) right now, it’s a one-round fight,” said DiBella, who happens to be the world champion’s promoter. “But I’ll say this: he’s the greatest ticket-seller I’ve ever seen.”
There were seven undefeated boxers in the seven bouts on Thursday night’s ‘Irish Express’ card, and unsurprisingly, all seven of them were still unbeaten at night’s end.
Duddy stablemate and frequent sparring partner, Arklow middleweight James Moore, ran his record to 5-0 with a third-round TKO of Jose Felix. Moore put Felix (9-3-2) on the deck twice in the second, both times with body shots, and when he felled him again with a hard left to the body 26 seconds into the third, referee Steve Smoger waved it off without a count.
The third native-born Irishman on the card, Ennis heavyweight James Clancy, won a unanimous decision over the corpulent Mitch Rose (2-10-1). Clancy scored a shutout on the cards of Melvina Lathan and Matt Ruggerio (40-36), while Frank Lombardi gave the onetime Butterbean conqueror a round in scoring it 39-37.
Bronx lightweight Maureen Shea (5-0) rode a blistering body attack to a one-sided (40-36 on all three cards) victory over New Mexican LeAnne Villarreal (1-6-1) in their four-round prelim. Once she took her attack to the body in the third, Shea landed 95 punches in that two-minute stanza and another 86 in the fourth.
While extended the distance for just the second time in his career, New York super-middleweight Joe Greene (9-0) won a comfortable decision over Brian Norman (7-4) of St. Louis. There were no knockdowns, but Greene, a Don Turner-trained southpaw, wobbled Norman late in the fifth and then dominated the sixth (a round in which he landed 30 of the 59 punches he threw) to win going away by scores of 59-54 (Lathan), 59-55 (Ruggerio), and 58-56 (John McCaye)
Another New York super-middle, Peter (Kid Chocolate) Quillin, knocked Willie Cruz down twice on the way to his second-round TKO, but the knockdown total could easily have been double that.
Quillin (3-0) used Cruz for a speed bag early on, putting him down less than half a minute into the fight with a fusillade of punches. Cruz (3-6) survived another barrage only because he was held up by the ring ropes, and the corner pad was all that thwarted what could have been a third trip to the canvas.
Quillin dropped his foe again early in the second with a hard left hook. When he jumped right back on him again following the mandatory eight-count, referee Benji Estevez intervened to stop it 49 seconds into the round. Quillin celebrated by tossing foil-wrapped bits of chocolate to the crowd, the denizens of press row, and even to television broadcasters Sean O’Grady and Micky Ward.
In the curtain-raiser, Brooklyn welterweight Martin Wright successfully debuted, stopping Joe Davis (1-3) of Augusta, Ga. via a first-round TKO.
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MADISON SQUARE GARDEN THEATRE
NEW YORK CITY
MARCH 16, 2006
MIDDLEWEIGHTS: John Duddy, 160, Derry, Northern Ireland KO’d Shelby Pudwill, 158½, Mandan, ND (1) (Wins vacant WBC Continental Americas title)
James Moore, 157, Arklow, Ireland TKO’d Jose Felix, 154, Savannah, Ga. (3)
HEAVYWEIGHTS: James Clancy, 249, Ennis, Ireland dec. Mitchell Rose, 269, Brooklyn, NY (4)
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Joe Greene, 162½, New York dec. Brian Norman, 167½, St. Louis, Mo. (6)
Peter Quillin, 162½, New York TKO’d Willie Cruz, 163, Fajardo, PR (2)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Martin Wright, 148, Brooklyn, NY TKO’d Joseph Davis, 144, Augusta, Ga. (1)
LIGHTWEIGHTS: Maureen Shea, 131, Bronx, NY dec. LeAnne Villareal, 131, Albuquerque, NM (4)