JOHN DUDDY’S manager, Craig Hamilton has revealed that discussions to stage the Derry man’s Irish middleweight showdown with Limerick’s Andy Lee are at an advanced stage as he attempts to finalise a deal this week.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The hotly anticipated middleweight duel between two of Ireland’s most popular pugilists, is edging ever closer as the final touches to the deal are put in place and Hamilton admits the possibility of the All-Ireland match-up is very much ‘alive and kicking’.
Despite getting New York promoter Lou Di Bella and American TV network HBO on board to showcase the fight, a contract has yet to be agreed by both Lee and Duddy’s management advisors.
However, both parties are understood to be keen to schedule the fight on the undercard of WBC champion, Sergio Martinez’s middleweight decider with WBO light-middleweight holder Sergeii Dzinziruk at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut on March 12th next which would provide both fighters with a perfect opportunity to launch themselves back in contention for a world title challenge.
Duddy’s New York based manager, Hamilton is eager to put the finishing touches to the deal as the March 12th date looms large on the horizon and he is concerned that if the talks drag on any longer than the end of this week, both fighters won’t have sufficient time to prepare for such a defining fight in both of their professional careers.
“It’s never a done deal until I have a contract in front of me,” said Hamilton last night. “There is serious discussions ongoing about the possibility of the March 12th HBO backed promotion for the two fighters to fight in front of Sergio Martinez. But there’s no contract. Lou Di Bella of New York is the promoter but it’s looking a lot more of a possibility than it did a few weeks back.
“We’re still in discussions but there’s lots of parties involved. There’s HBO, the two fighters, the promoter and obviously the venue still has to be confirmed.
“There’s a lot of work still to be done. It’s alive, I can say that and, hopefully, we can get everything resolved within the week.”
Hamilton, who admitted to growing increasingly impatient as he awaits confirmation of the proposed showdown with Lee, is anxious to get his fighter back in the ring as he attempts to bounce back from his 12 round unanimous decision defeat to Julio Chavez Jr. in Dallas last June which temporarily derailed his title ambitions.
“We’ve got to have something sorted come the end of the week because they have to get their training down and get going. There’s only two months left until the fight so there’s not much time, it’s getting closer.
“So I can’t say for definite that the fight will happen as there’s no contract in front of me but it is looking a lot more promising.”
Andy Lee (24-1) doesn’t hold the same drawing power as the charismatic Duddy (29-2) in the States and Hamilton believes the Limerick southpaw needs the ‘Derry Destroyer’ much more than Duddy needs him.
However, such a high profile fight would surely catapult the Galliagh man back into world title contention and Hamilton insists Duddy, ranked No. 14 by WBO, is raring to go.
“John’s keeping himself fit doing a lot of fitness training and he was back in the gym last week and he’ll start his training. He’s ready to go and two months is plenty of time for him to get himself into shape and he’ll battle down the hatches once we get everything finalised. It’s alive, that’s all we can really say at this stage.”
Duddy adds punch in
Meanwhile, Duddy has been keeping himself occupied as he prepares himself for his U.S screen debut in the 13th and final episode of “Light Outs.”
“Just a blink of an eye,” Duddy laughs about his cameo with Paulie Malignaggi and other New York area prizefighters.
“It was a great experience and I’m really looking forward to the show,” the middleweight added.
Duddy is just one of several boxing personalities with Irish connections tied to Holt McCallany and the FX drama. Others include Duddy trainer Harry Keitt, the New York man who’s also worked with Arklow’s James Moore; and renowned trainer/fight analyst Teddy Atlas.
While Keitt and Atlas – along with amateur legend and former world champion Mark Breland – coached McCallany at different stages, Duddy was the main inspiration for the actor’s ring persona and fighting style.
McCallany, whose character’s fight trunks are modeled after the emerald green pair worn by Duddy said: “Of all the boxers that I studied, I’d say that John is the one that I was most anxious to emulate.
“I think John, if he wanted to could make a great actor,” McCallany continued. “He’s smart, personable, very handsome and men love him and women love him.”