John Duddy shares ring with fellow Derry man Connor Coyle in New York City
TWO OF Derry's finest professional middleweight boxers shared a ring in New York City last week as unbeaten Connor Coyle (18-0) got the chance to pick the brains of former world title contender John Duddy (29-2) at Trinity Boxing Club in lower Manhattan.
'The Kid' Coyle is making big waves Stateside as he climbed the rungs of the WBA middleweight ladder to a lofty number six this month with a career-defining fight muted to be on the horizon.
He's trodden a similar path to his fellow Galliagh man, the 'Derry Destroyer' - retired 12 years ago this month - who was twice on the cusp of a world middleweight title fight, firstly in 2008 before a proposed bout against Kelly Pavlik fell through and again in 2011 when he was set up to fight Andy Lee before sensationally hanging up his gloves.
Like Duddy, Coyle has chosen to build his professional career in the USA. Duddy proved an enormously popular attraction in New York, fighting at Madison Square Garden an incredible nine times during a seven-year career.
Whereas Coyle has opted for St Petersburg, Florida as his base since turning to the paid ranks in 2016 with 14 of his 18 pro bouts taking place in the States.
And despite dealing with his fair share of roadblocks through injury, Covid, visa issues and major shows being pulled at the final hour, Coyle is edging nearer to his dream world title tilt.
Duddy's career certainly has its parallels with Coyle and while they differ greatly in terms of style, 'the Kid' was eager to link up with one of his childhood idols during a visit to the 'Big Apple' with his fiancee Eva.
Keen to get some training done in between hitting the famous tourist hotspots, Coyle made a trip to the legendary Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, where Duddy trained as a professional under Harry Keitt.
After getting in contact with Duddy, the pair met up at Trinity Gym on Vesey Street in Manhattan's Financial District where the former Ring ABC clubman has recently taken up his role as a boxing coach.
Looking sharp, Duddy was impressed by his fellow Galliagh man's skills and believes he can go all the way providing he continues to take on board the sage advice of his Florida Hall of Fame coach, Jim McLoughlin.
"It was great to see him," said Duddy. "I wished him luck in his career, told him to keep up the good training and to keep listening to his coach. He's a lovely fella and it's great to see a Derry man doing so well."
When asked if he thought Coyle had the arsenal to clinch a world title shot and go a step further than he did in his own career, he answered in the affirmative.
"Yes, definitely, he's a good fighter!"
For Coyle, it was too good an opportunity not to take while visiting New York and revealed the session gave him food for thought.
Explaining how the meeting with Duddy came about, Coyle said he couldn't pass up the opportunity to sharpen his tools alongside one of the most entertaining boxers to come out of Ireland.
"I knew John was in New York and I wanted to go to Gleason's Gym where he trained as a professional and it's a famous gym so I wanted to go there and get a training session in while I was there.
"I wanted to meet up with John obviously too, a fellow Derry man who's living in New York City so I knew he wouldn't be too far away so I reached out and asked if he would be at Gleason's or wherever he was and if I could in and get a few training sessions in with him while I was there, because I wanted to keep myself in shape while I was on holiday as I have a big year coming up.
"So the day I got in with him, he was great on the pads, right to the point. Nothing fancy but just everything that works. He taught me a few wee things and pointed out a couple of things I knew I needed to work on myself so he was teaching me his way of doing it which was good.
"It was a great experience to get in with such a big name, someone who is held in such high regard in Derry too and so to train under the guidance of him while I was on holidays, it was great.
"We had a good time in New York and especially getting into Gleason's Gym and Trinity Gym where John works out of, getting some pad work done with him, it was a good trip all round, training and sight-seeing."
The current WBA NABA champion returned home to Derry and was straight back in the gym at his former amateur base at St Joseph's ABC alongside Cahir Duffy on Monday and he's more focussed than ever on securing a major breakthrough towards the big title fights in the coming months.
"We're negotiating a few contracts as we speak and it's big enough fights being talked about for the first fight of 2023. I don't want to say too much yet because nothing is concrete until a contract is signed.
"We're working on a big one but Jim (McLoughlin) always does a bit of side work and has something lined up in case the big ones don't follow through.
"So I'm back in the gym with Cahir and that's me back to two sessions a day now at St Joseph's Boxing club and that's me back in camp for a big year.
“I’d like to thank everybody for their support and my sponsors for their support through 2022 which helped me jump to No. 6 in the world and become WBA NABA champion and in 2023 we would love to be WBA world champion or with one of those other big organisations. We'll be pushing for a world title in 2023!
“Thanks to my team, Jody Caliguire, John Viniguerra and Jim McLoughlin my coaches in America and my management team who do everything they do and who have got me to where I am now in my professional career, number six in the world is absolutely huge. We're going to take advantage of it now this year.
“I'd like to thank Cahir and Kevin Duffy and Liam McLaughlin from St Joseph's too who let me train in the gym like I did as an amateuer. That's my home and I've trained there for 20 years and nothing's changed. They've looked after me since I was 11 years old and they still do so, big shout out to St Joe's boxing club.”