2005-06-10 / Sports

Duddy Heads To Big Stage At The Garden

By Elio Velez

John Duddy. Photo By Pete BorrielloJohn Duddy. Photo By Pete Borriello Junior welterweight boxing contender John Duddy focus isn’t just on winning a championship. The Derry County, Ireland born fighter is intending to make his mark in America. On Saturday, the 25 year old will have the chance to showcase his talent at the world’s most famous arena.

Duddy will take on Patrick Thompson in the undercard of the Miguel Cotto vs, Muhammad Abdullaev WBO junior welterweight title fight in Madison Square Garden on HBO.

Early in his professional career, Duddy (9-0, 9 KOs) has the boxing world on notice for his aggressiveness and tenacity in the ring. An ESPN 2 national audience already saw Leonard Pierre feel the wrath in a one round TKO on March 18.

“Patrick Thompson is one of those guys who may come straight at you guy and that may play to our advantage. He’s going to come at us hard as he (Duddy) will,” head trainer Harry Keitt said. Fighting in the mecca of boxing could give some boxers the chance to be overconfident about their ability. The bright lights and big crowd could swell a boxer’s head but Duddy doesn’t subscribe to that theory. He just wants to take care of business one fight at a time.

“Everybody says you must be excited by going to the Garden but quite honestly it won’t be exciting to me until I win,” Duddy says. “My first and foremost thought in my head is beating Patrick Thompson and then after I beat him, I’ll enjoy the moment. I’m not going there to be beat.” Duddy has trained with the same intensity and dedication in the gym and throughout his career according to Keitt.

“The improvement I’ve seen is very determined and focused. He is on top of his game. He doesn’t look for the knockout. It just happens. Guys like Leonard Pierre, he just takes care of them,” Keitt says.

“I know my dog got a bigger bite than your dog. The other dog may bark a lot but my dog will bite your head off.”

It’s also Duddy’s engaging personality that Keitt believes the fans will connect with.

“He’s just crossing over into that new territory. Everybody wants him to win and he’s a pleasant guy inside and outside of the gym. When the bell rings, he’s a beast. He has to be aggressive and establish himself so he can get to the title one day.”

Most of the expected 15,000 fans at the Garden will most likely be cheering for Cotto, since the Puerto Rican Day will be held the next day. But Duddy, who expects a large cheering section in his corner, hopes he is impressive enough to gather more on his side.

“When I heard I was fighting in the Garden, I thought it was brilliant. All the great fighters that been there. That’s the holy grail of boxing. It’s a breeding ground. That’s why I came to New York.”

“Hopefully the Puerto Rican supporters will take me under their wing and start cheering me on,” says Duddy with a big smile on his face.

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