It is hard to believe that junior middleweight James Moore, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens, New York, is a veteran of 315 amateur bouts, of which he lost about 70. At 28-years-old, there is nary a mark on his boyishly handsome, classic Irish face.
But his unmarked visage does not begin to tell the story of what an accomplished amateur he was back home. A longtime teammate of current middleweight sensation John Duddy, they represented their native country in tournaments around the world.
The two became so close that after Duddy arrived in the United States and started making waves a few years back, Moore decided to come as well. Both are now trained by Harry Keitt and promoted by the McLoughlin brothers, who run the Irish Ropes boxing gym in Far Rockaway.
The hard-punching, hard-charging undefeated Moore, 5-0 (4 KOs), goes for his sixth straight win tonight at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan on promoter Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing card that is headlined by South African Silence Mabuza and Mexican Ricardo Vargas in an IBF bantamweight elimination bout.
DiBella, as well as many others on the New York boxing scene, are calling this card, which also includes undefeated middleweight knockout artist Curtis Stevens of Brownsville, Brooklyn, against former WBA junior middleweight champion Carl Daniels of St. Louis, the strongest Broadway Boxing card ever.
“My goal has always been to be a professional boxer,” said Moore, a bronze medalist at the 2001 World Games in Belfast who has only lived in the United States since June 2005. “I came here solely to pursue my boxing career.”
Moore is the first to admit that he is not the most technically proficient fighter, nor is he a defensive maestro.
When he says that, one can only wonder how he managed to emerge from such a lengthy amateur career, which included more than his share of losses, with his facial features and his mental faculties so unaffected. Even more amazing is the fact that he has never been cut, nor has he ever had his nose broken.
His answer is what makes him one of the most exciting prospects on today’s thriving New York boxing scene.
“I would rough my opponents up, knock the boxing out of them,” he said. “I was always in great condition and learned to do what I do best, which is be aggressive.”
Moore’s all-action style is not so dissimilar from that of the more professionally experienced Duddy, a style that has made Duddy one of the most talked about prospects in years.
“James is not your typical European guy,” said Keitt. “He’s not a standup boxer who looks to go the distance. He comes to fight, not to box. He is a devastating body puncher and a relentless headhunter.”
Like so many other fighters whose styles are best suited for the professional ranks, Moore became very frustrated toward the end of his amateur career. One time he and Duddy were on the national team that competed in the European championships in the former Soviet Union.
“Seven of us were beaten in the first round, and all of us were beaten because we were Irish,” said Moore. “After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the judging system there was so bad you couldn’t beat one of their fighters unless you knocked them out. It was very frustrating.”
Moore always knew that he was destined to be a professional, and believed that being in America was the best way to make that happen. Many of his amateur teammates who turned in Ireland long before he turned pro—in New York in August 2005—have had less fights than him.
Not only is there not much of a professional boxing scene in Ireland, Moore says the country is getting prohibitively expensive to live in. He believes that Ireland ranks right behind Finland as the European nations with the highest cost of living index.
Coming to New York was a no-brainer for him, especially after the glowing reports he received from Duddy, whose career exploded there in a very short time.
Having appeared on several cards that were headlined or co-headlined by Duddy, Moore laughs when he is asked about fighting in Duddy’s shadow. After all, he is a few years older than his onetime amateur roommate.
“Being in that position is perfect for me,” said Moore. “It suits me fine. John is a main event fighter now and everyone is talking about him. There is no pressure on me as I learn what I need to learn.
“Boxing—and life—is all about learning,” he added. “It’s learning how to adapt and anticipate what your opponent will do. You can do all the training in the world, but then get hit with a good body shot and see it all go out the window.”
Besides Duddy, Moore regularly spars with Paulie Malignaggi, who will challenge WBO junior welterweight champion Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden in June. Moore says that anyone who sells Malignaggi short is making a mistake.
“Paulie’s very tricky and has good fast hands,” he explained. “We go back a bit. We fought together at an international [amateur] tournament at Foxwoods [Casino in Connecticut] back in 2001. Sechew Powell was also on the card.”
Moore says that since arriving in New York, where he lives with his fiancée Leanne Demonge, with whom he has been involved for five years, his life has been on a whirlwind.
His last fight, a sensational third round TKO of Jose Felix, took place at the Theater in Madison Square Garden on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day on a card headlined by Duddy vs. Shelby Pudwill.
“Fighting at Madison Square Garden was a great experience, but I don’t think it has sunk in yet,” he said. “It’s not like I’m running around telling everyone that I fought there. Later on in life, I’m sure that the significance of fighting there will be more important to me.”
Right now the hardworking Moore is just enjoying the ride. The first stop in what he hopes will be his glorious future takes place tonight at the Hammerstein. Located just one block from the fabled Garden, Moore has already fought two of his five bouts there.
You can be sure that there will be no shortage of enthusiastic Irish fans in attendance.
As much as he loves boxing, Moore says that it is actually only his second favorite passion. His first is fishing.
“Hopefully boxing will enable me to someday be my own boss,” he said. “I’d like to buy a little land and a nice boat. I’ve dreamed of that as much as I’ve dreamed of being a world champion.”
The Hammerstein Ballroom is located on West 34 Street and 8th Avenue. Doors open at 6 PM and the fights start at 7 PM.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-947-2577.