Duddy’s climb continues

Duddy’s climb continues
By Seconds Out

13/03/2007 at 00:00Updated

Ireland’s John Duddy finds himself swimming in deeper waters as he makes his return to the ring this Friday, March 16 at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, New York. The Irishman takes on gritty challenger Anthony ‘The Bullet’ Bonsante.

Duddy knows that he is realistically only three or four more fights away from a shot at middleweight glory.

Although Duddy (18-0 15KO) will climb through the ropes sporting the lightly regarded IBA title belt, he and the rest of his team realize that they are tantalizingly close to a crack at the middleweight championship of the world - currently held by undefeated American Jermain Taylor.

It"s a testament to the 27-year-old"s marketability and talent that, only 18 fights into his professional career, there is such a buzz swirling around boxing circles that a Duddy world title challenge could be so close.

It"s hardly surprising though – in a sport that savors a fighter as much for his selling ability as for his talent, there is no hotter young ticket than John Duddy right now.

The 5,000 seat venue for this Friday"s showdown is completely sold out and with estimates of 3,000 more ticket seekers left disappointed, it"s surely only a matter of time before the &lsquoDuddy Express" moves upstairs to headline the main arena – The Mecca of Boxing – not bad for such a young career.

Attempting to upset the apple cart and break Irish hearts throughout the world on the eve of St Patrick"s Day is Minnesota native Anthony Bonsante (29-8-3 17KO). Coming off a career best victory over Matt Vanda, the 36-year-old veteran brings to the ring an aggressive style, which should suit Duddy as he looks to get back to fundamentals this time out.

Bonsante, who famously competed on &lsquoThe Contender" reality show in 2005, has a surplus of courage and heart and will not be intimidated by a fighter who simply wants to trade leather. His technical skills however should be no match for the Irishman who possesses superior ring generalship, a picture perfect jab and a blistering power attack.

Bonsante"s only real hope is to drag his opponent into a war and hope to catch the Derryman flush at some stage in the fight. Alarmingly, Duddy has the tendency to oblige and turn fights that he should dominate into back and forth wars.

Eddie McLaughlin, Duddy"s promoter and founder of Irish Ropes Boxing Club in New York, told SecondsOut that a more complete Duddy will be unleashed on the challenger come fight night.

"I think you"ll see a different Duddy in this fight," McLaughlin forecasts. "He has been working on his defense which needed some improvement. He"s like a throwback to the old Evander Holyfield days and we"re trying to get him out of that mindset. He"s not going to go in there and knock out everybody as he proved against Campas."

McLaughlin refers to Duddy"s breathtaking victory over legendary veteran &lsquoYory Boy" Campas last September. That evening, both men threw any semblance of defense to the wayside and battered each other for 12 enthralling rounds. In that bout, bloodied and in desperate danger of becoming Campas" 73rd knock out victim, Duddy was forced to dig deep and rely on his boxing skills to guide him to a deserved, yet narrow victory.

"We knew that Campas would stand there," said McLaughlin. "We didn"t think he"d be as tough as he was to be honest but he stood there and traded. Duddy let him into the fight and Campas probably won the first four rounds."

He continued, "Duddy showed everybody that he has a great chin and a lot of heart and that, when everything was not going his way, he could switch to plan B and do what it takes to win."

Bonsante should not present as tough of a challenge to Duddy as the durable Mexican warrior Campas proved to be last year. He affords Duddy the perfect opportunity to work on that much talked about defensive problem that needs to be fixed before he can even begin to think about Jermain Taylor.

McLaughlin concurs, "I think Duddy is a B or B+ [fighter] right now but to get him into the A category we need to work on his defense a little bit and tighten it up. This is a learning curve on his way to the middleweight world championship and I think he learned more from his last fight than in the previous 17 combined."

There is a wonderfully refreshing buzz around this likeable young man from the Galliagh neighborhood of Derry City, in the northwest coast of Ireland. Rarely in boxing do you find a young man, at the adolescent stages of his career, enjoying such a massive fanbase.

"He gives bang for the buck," said McLaughlin. "He"s very entertaining inside of the ring and he"s a gentleman outside of it. He has that X factor and that"s the type of appeal that people will pay to see so hopefully we can pull the trigger on the big one [the world championship] for all the marbles on St Patrick"s weekend next year."

A solid and impressive victory should be expected if Duddy sticks to his game plan this coming Friday. If he plays the trench warfare game that almost cost him dearly last time out, we could well witness more fireworks in New York City on the eve of St Patrick"s Day.