2007-11-23 / Sports

Duddy Takes On Experienced Eastman

By Elio Velez

The word has spread about the boxing exploits of Ireland-born John Duddy. But now, the 28-year-old fighter is drawing on all of his boxing knowledge to face his toughest opponent to date.

Duddy's next fight will take place near his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, but his opponent has plenty of experience in fighting in tough situations.

The undefeated Duddy (22-0, 17 KOs) will take on an experienced Howard Eastman, who has a 42-5 record, on December 8, as the main event at King's Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Duddy, who works with the Irish Ropes Promotions, returns home for the first time as a professional boxer.

Eastman, 35 years old, is the former two-time European champion. He has fought world champions like Bernard Hopkins and upcoming middleweight contenders Edison Miranda and Arthur Abraham.

But in his career as a stepping-stone fighter, Eastman has been scheduled, as of late, to oppose promising middleweight contenders. "The Battersea Bomber's" reputation as a hard-nosed fighter has intrigued Duddy's camp.

Duddy has fought twice in Ireland these past few months. On October 20, Prince Arron became the latest victim of the punching power that Duddy possesses.

The second round TKO victory was against a 19-year-old opponent, who stood four inches taller than Duddy's five- foot-eleven frame.

But the win may not have convinced Duddy's critics that he is ready to jump into the ring with a tough opponent.

According to Irish Ropes promoter Eddie McLoughlin, the improvement that Duddy has made with new trainer Don Turner, has increased their chances to win a world title.

But McLoughlin knows that boxing fans would like to see Duddy prove himself in the ring with a worthy opponent. Enter Eastman.

"This is a learning curve for John," McLoughlin said.

"Since we got involved with John, our goal wasn't just to get in a position to fight for a world title, but to win it."

"They respect a good fight but will not come for just any show with John in it. We have north of 5,000 seats to fill and I suspect all will be filled with John fighting Eastman."

Eastman has only been knocked out once in his career, by Edison Miranda. His other four losses have come via decision.

By next year, Duddy wants to attract a world championship fight. The rumors were that new WBC and WBO middleweight champion, Kelly Pavlik, could have been Duddy's next opponent.

But any hopes of a Pavlik- Duddy matchup will be postponed. Jermain Taylor, the former champ who lost to Pavlik on September 29, exercised his rematch clause. That rematch will take place on February 16 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

So if Duddy does not have any plans in January, he may either try to corral a European title shot or return to the states.

Duddy may fight again in March and the last two years, his pre-St. Patrick's Day bouts have taken place at Madison Square Garden.

But that date is up in the air. McLoughlin said a few months ago that there might not be an available date to stage a boxing card featuring Duddy.

But as unpredictable as boxing can be, Duddy may find a viable championship fight sooner rather than later, if he soundly defeats Eastman.

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