2008-01-25 / Sports

Middleweight Contender Duddy Returns To NYC

World middleweight title contender John Duddy is going to fight in his "home" New York City for the first time since last May.

Duddy is fighting Tunisian brawler Walid "Tempete de Sable" Smichet as part of the undercard of the main event, which will feature a heavyweight championship match as IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko takes on WBO title holder Sultan Ibragimov.

The fight will be held at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, February 23. The main event will only be televised on HBO.

Duddy spent most of 2007 in his homeland of Ireland and it proved to be successful homecoming. Winning all three fights he competed in, Duddy improved his record to 23-0, with 17 KOs.

His last victory came by defeating two-time former middleweight champion Howard Eastman in a ten-round decision in December at Kings Hall in Belfast.

"After the Howard Eastman fight, I'm confident about getting in the ring with any middleweight in the world. It wasn't perfect, but I showed I had a good chin - I always knew that - used my head more and never took a step backwards," Duddy said.

"I'm much more comfortable. It was a step closer to me getting to the top and I'm happy with my progress."

The Irish Ropes Promotion's top boxer has attracted interest from WBC champion Kelly Pavlik to possibly meet in the ring for a title fight later this year.

But Duddy must take care of his opponent in the ring next month. The popular boxer, who hails from nearby Derry County, is excited to return to the states.

He feels that new trainer Don Turner has helped the 27 year old fighter vastly improve in the ring and take the next step in challenging for a world middleweight title.

Smichet has a record of 17 wins, 3 losses and 13 KOs.

"It was great fighting in Ireland the past year, but I'm really looking forward to being back where I started my pro career with all those great fans. There's a lot of interest in my career back home now and a lot of people are flying in to watch this fight," Duddy, who is currently training in North Carolina, said.

"Most importantly, though, I think I've shown improvement in my last three fights, although a lot was just simple things we worked on. Don has me boxing like I did before (as an amateur)."

For more information on the fight or on Duddy, go to www.irishropes. com.

Tickets can be ordered through Ticketmaster by phone at 212- 307- 7171 or online at www.ticket mas ter. com

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