Andy Lee And John Duddy Continue To Circle Each Other

By Matthew Hurley: John Duddy, 23-0 with 17 KOs will face Matt Vanda, 37-5 with 21 KOs on February 23rd at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight at the Garden, in what is becoming a St. Patrick’s Day weekend tradition for the Irish fighter, comes on the heels of the Oleg Maskaev – Samuel Peter WBC heavyweight title bout, once tentatively scheduled for February 2nd in the New England area, moving to March 8th in Cancun..

That fight has also switched from a Showtime televised bout to rival network HBO. Duddy was originally slated to fight on the undercard. Duddy is coming off a victory over Howard Eastman at Kings Hall in Belfast, Ireland. The sole judge, referee Sean Russell scored the bout 96-94.

Duddy’s looming rival Limerick’s Andy Lee, 14-0 with 11 KOs, fighting out of the Kronk Gym, fought a week after Duddy at the National Stadium in Dublin, stopping Jason McKay in the sixth round winning the Irish super middleweight title. Lee’s trainer Emanuel Steward has said that Lee will now fight a tune-up bout on February 2nd, which is now scheduled for the University Arena in Limerick, Ireland against an opponent not yet determined. He is then tentatively scheduled to fight three weeks later on the undercard of the Wladimir Klitschko – Sultan Ibragimov heavyweight unification bout at Madison Square Garden on, yes, February 23rd, possibly against Howard Eastman who acquitted himself well against Duddy.

Steward is also stoking the flames for an eventual Duddy - Lee showdown, proclaiming his charge ready for the better known Duddy at any time in the near future. In fact, so pleased with Lee’s progress is the Kronk impresario that he even mentioned Lee as a possible opponent for middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik at the end of 2008.

Ironically, three days after Duddy defeated Eastman, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was in New York conducting the first press conference kicking off the junket for the Jermain Taylor – Kelly Pavlik rematch that takes place on February 16th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Arum told the press that if Pavlik defeats Taylor and Duddy defeats Vanda, then Pavlik’s first middleweight title defense will come against Duddy in June. Pavlik’s belts will not be on the line in his rematch with Taylor – the bout will be fought at a catch weight of 166 pounds.

The two middleweights, both fan friendly bangers, continue to circle each other like young lions measuring each other up, looking for weaknesses, waiting to attack. Although Lee lacks the record of a seasoned professional his trainer Steward insists his extensive amateur background has matured him beyond both his resume and his years. Duddy, the more marketable of the two at the moment, is seen by many of his critics as a fighter who has peaked physically yet he continues to tighten up his defense and, more importantly, provide fans with exciting bouts. If Lee, or his trainer, is as impatient to take on the best in the division as they claim and Duddy does not get a title shot at the winner of Taylor – Pavlik, look for Duddy – Lee shootout in mid to late 2008.

Article posted on 27.12.2007

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