2007-07-20 / Sports

Duddy Celebrates Ireland Homecoming With TKO Victory

By Elio Velez

Middleweight boxer John Duddy made his return to Ireland a successful one last Saturday night.

The undefeated Irish Ropes middleweight boxer defeated Alessio Furlan of Italy in the tenth and final round of the main event of "The Homecoming" at the National Stadium in Dublin.

Duddy, who improved his record to 21-0, floored the Italian- born fighter twice in the 10th round to win via knockout, in front of a soldout crowd of 3,000 in attendance plus additional television viewers on pay-per-view.

Duddy was impressive in the first round, and knocked Furlan down to the canvas with two successive left hooks. But the rest of the fight would not be a cakewalk for the Irish Ropes boxer.

Furlan, who fell to 19-9 in his career, came back and went toe-to-toe with the crowd's hometown favorite. In the middle rounds, Furlan effectively jabbed his opponent and kept taking the fight to Duddy.

But Furlan did not have the punching power or the quickness to take control of the fight. The cut that formed over Duddy's left eye, which required 15 stitches after the fight, was a result of an accidental headbutt and not a Furlan punch.

Duddy got back his bearings and punished Furlan in the later rounds. In the tenth, Duddy connected with a powerful right hand to the face and quickly rushed to a stunned Furlan by landing two more left hooks.

It was too much punishment for Furlan, as he once again fell down to the canvas, but got up before the referee counted him out. The fight would not last much longer, as Duddy took care of a wobbly Furlan with a right uppercut that floored the opponent for the second time.

Referee Emile Tiedt wasted no time as he called the fight on TKO at the 2:44 mark of the tenth round. The knockout was Duddy's 15th of his career.

Duddy looked good in the beginning as the tutelage of new trainer Don Turner paid off in the early rounds. The champion hired Turner, who has worked with four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and 18 former world champion boxers. But Duddy struggled with throwing combinations, especially when he had the opportunity to finish off a tired Furlan in the early rounds.

He admits that there is still a bit of tweaking and refinement yet to do in his boxing repertoire, before the next time he gets into the ring

"I was thinking too much in there. I was trying to carry out what Don (Turner) has been teaching me in the gym," Duddy told the Belfast Telegraph. "But we've only been working for four weeks so it's going to take time for me to change what I need to."

Due to the nature of Duddy's stitched up left eye; the recovery time may preclude him from fighting in late August or September at the King's Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

This is not the first time a headbutt has caused damaged.

In Duddy's previous bout against Dupre Strickland at the Beacon Theatre, an accidental headbutt caused a gash over his right eye in the third round.

Though the fight in Dublin was billed "The Homecoming", Duddy's next scheduled encounter will actually take place near his hometown of Derry County in Northern Ireland. The opponent is as yet to be named.

If he can recover in time, Duddy will have another fight in preparation; A hopeful encounter with European middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester. That could take place either in December or early next year.

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