2006-05-05 / Sports

Middleweight Champion Duddy Signs With Irish Ropes Promotion

By Everett Fell

Pillars of the boxing community, reporters and general well-wishers gathered on Wednesday afternoon at

Dempsey's Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan over the promotion of a 26 year-old with a thick Celtic accent

who has embraced the blue-collar mentality of New York.

In an unsettling time for immigrants in this country, John Duddy, the WBC Continental Americas middleweight champion, projects an ambitious and amiable attitude that turns this city into a melting pot.

Duddy, however, has a found a balance between adapting to the New York culture and sticking to his roots as the press conference announced Duddy's official signing with Irish Ropes.

"I came to America on my own and met Eddie (McLoughlin) three years ago and (Irish Ropes) has looked after me," Duddy said about the president of the Irish Ropes, which is based in Arverne.

The Queens native, who hails from Derry, Ireland, has accumulated an 16-0 record with 14 knockouts and is

currently rated No. 13 by the WBA.

Duddy captured his title when he took down Selby Pudwill just 1:51 into the fight on St. Patrick's Day. Duddy will defend his title at Madison Square Garden on June 10 against Freddy Cuevas (25-8-1 17 KOs) as part of the undercard for the Miguel Cotto/Paulie Malignaggi fight.

"I'll take the first round knockout if it comes but (Cuevas) is a durable fight," Duddy said. "He comes to fight and throws a lot of punches. I'm sure it will last more than 91 seconds."

Duddy appeared at ease among the 40 or so reporters as he quipped about conquering New York first and then maybe returning to his homeland to fight more. Regardless of where he fights, though, Duddy seems to want to represent both of his training stops as he flashed a green New York Mets shirt under his warm-ups.

Duddy's genial demeanor added to the light-hearted atmosphere at the conference but he had support. His trainer, Harry Keitt, approached the table with shock as a card spelled his first name, Hurry. "People want me to leave already?" Keitt asked. Keitt changed tones when discussing his prodigy's future.

"We're building a champ here," Keitt said. "You build him punch by punch, hook by hook and knockout by

knockout." Duddy's zeal coupled with his modesty sends the message that he expects plenty in the future but refuses to look to far ahead. "As long as Harry keeps knocking the stuff out of me in the gym, I'm going to knock the stuff out of fighters in the ring."

Duddy and McLoughlin spoke gratefully regarding the large, dedicated fan base that will surely drape the Garden in green for the June 10th fight. As Duddy wins over local boxing fans, it seems as though there is someone out there who despises his fame.

As matchmaker Jim Borzell informed the public, Duddy's 16 year-old sister dislikes her older brother status.

"His sister, who lives in Derry, gets hit on by a young men and when they learn her last name is Duddy, they ask if she is related to the fighter, John Duddy?," Borzell said. "When she says yes, the guys say so long."

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