2005-03-18 / Sports

Duddy Takes Battle To Primetime Stage

By Elio Velez

John Duddy walks away after he (right) knocks down an opponent last year.John Duddy walks away after he (right) knocks down an opponent last year. On a typical day, most people are sleeping at 4:30 a.m. For John Duddy, 4:30 a.m. means it’s time to get up and get to work.

Boxing is Duddy’s profession. The 25 year old will start running in the early morning hours just before he has to arrive at the Irish Ropes Boxing Club in Arverne. At the club, he will continue to train and spar for a few more hours.

On some days after finishing at the gym, Duddy will go swimming. It’s another training method according to Duddy that will improve his stamina.

Bernard Hopkins (left) is a big fan of John Duddy , who poses for the camera along with trainer Eddie McLoughlin.Bernard Hopkins (left) is a big fan of John Duddy , who poses for the camera along with trainer Eddie McLoughlin. “Swimming is a habit I had back in Ireland,” Duddy says. “It doesn’t put stress in your joints. It improves your breathing and keeps your mind sharp.”

At 5’11 and 160 pounds, Duddy is aggressive in his training as he is in the ring. That will hopefully carry over tonight as he appears on the Friday Night Fights’ boxing program on ESPN 2 at 10 p.m.

It will be the biggest opportunity for Duddy, who has eight wins, no losses and eight knockouts, to show a national audience that he is a viable contender in the middleweight division.

“It’s a chance to show this guy that I’m ready to step up,” Duddy says of Leonard Pierre, his opponent tonight at Foxwoods Casino who has a record of 16-0. Pierre’s trainer Kevin Rooney was the man who helped Mike Tyson win three heavyweight championships.

“You’ll see a boxer and not just see a fighter.”

Duddy has been itching for many years just to get to this point. At the age of seven in his hometown of Derry City in Northern Ireland, the local boxing gym couldn’t stop him from wanting to fight. They allowed him to box and won his first matchup. Though he had to wait three years to officially start to box, Duddy never lost his desire.

With 160 amateur fights around the world, Duddy believed a few years that he can make the switch and turn professional. Eddie McLoughlin, Duddy’s trainer and owner of the Irish Ropes, agreed with that assessment.

“He was in the All-Ireland championship at 10 years old,” McLoughlin, who was present at the event said. “I saw something in him even though he lost.”

When he arrived in America, Duddy had to adapt to the different styles of boxing that fighters use. It’s been an easy transition according to Duddy because fellow Irish Ropes trainers Harry Keitt and Karl Leshore has kept the instruction simple and effective.

McLoughlin, a former professional boxer, does not subscribe to the idea that his fighter may need more matches to face a top opponent. Duddy’s time to shine is now according to McLoughlin.

“I’ve moved the battle up a bit. I have a lot of confidence in him,” McLoughlin said. “He’s got power in both hands. People are going to believe like I have is that he’s the real deal.”

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