Big Dog's Prospect Watch: The Fighting Irishman John Duddy
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (January 10, 2005)
Unbeaten middleweight prospect John Duddy, 7-0 (7), has taken the United States by storm with his relentless in-your-face aggressive style of fighting and the twenty-five year old Irishman is just getting started.
Born in County Derry, Ireland, the young lad was raised around boxing with his father fighting as a professional boxer in the lightweight division in the early 1980's. At seven John stepped in the ring as an amateur and went on to compile a 100-30 record, winning the Irish National Junior, Intermediate and Senior Light Middleweight Championships. He earned a Silver Medal in the European qualifier but suffered a broken jaw and couldn’t continue to the finals. John set his sights on America and moved to Brooklyn, NY, and in 2003 embarked on his professional career stopping his opponent in round one of his pro debut. The great cut man Al Gavin served in John’s corner in four of his professional bouts. Since his 2003 debut John has stopped all seven of his opponents by knockout, five in the first round. In January of 2004 John stepped in the ring with 10-4-1 Ken Hock, who had stopped seven of his opponents by knockout prior to facing the then 3-0 Duddy. The young Irishman would dispose of his prey in four rounds and then go on to battle it out against the then undefeated Victor Paz, 7-0, nine months later. He needed only one round out of the scheduled six round bout to stop the southpaw. John is honest, hard working and very humble for a guy who is no doubt set to be a future star in the sweet science. In a candid interview Doghouse Boxing conducted with the rising star, the fighting Irishman gives his thoughts on his past and present as well as his future, which seems to be headed for the top.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Hey John how are you?
John Duddy: [Strong Irish accent] Ah fantastic, just been training away, just looking forward to getting started in the new year and hopefully start off where we left off.
BH: You were born in Northern Ireland and with such champions from your homeland as Wayne McCullough and Steve Collins you have some big shoes to fill, does that add pressure to yourself or is that used as motivation?
JD: I really wouldn’t use it at all to be honest with you. What they done was fantastic like, but the only logical reason why I came here was because of professional boxing, back home it was a dying sport. And in America to be the best you have to train the best, that’s where the majority of the best boxers come from is America and the best coaches, so I’m just happy to be doing what I’m doing. I don’t really try to put any kind of pressure on myself.
BH: Who were your boxing heroes growing up?
JD: Barry McGuigan as opposed to the regulars Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. Steve Collins and Wayne McCullough too and I have respect for them with what they have done you know.
BH: You are undefeated as a professional boxer with seven wins all by knockout, five of those knockouts came in the first round. As an amateur you weren’t known for your knockout ratio, what happened from the time as an amateur to the pro ranks for you to gain that knockout power?
JD: I think it was when I came here and going back to the basics basically and the coaches working on me. They had me setting down on my punches and working on me punching technique. I’ve actually shocked myself to be honest with you. Like with the amateur career and back home too the European style of boxing was very upright. You come over here and they teach you to bob and weave and slip and slide and jump around the ring and I just do the work that the coaches have been giving me. I always knew there was something lagging on me as an amateur because I was never an exclusive puncher, as you know. But since coming here and hitting the bag and the mitts I can feel a change.
BH: How do you like fighting here in the United States?
JD: I think it is fantastic sort of, it has always been a dream of mine to come to America and box and I never would have thought I would be basing my career out of here. It just gets better for me every time I have a fight here.
BH: Was it a culture shock moving to America?
JD: Surprisingly not, I can’t get over how many Irish people actually live in New York City, I think once you get over the fact of walking around looking at the skyscrapers it gets really easy and I just have been enjoying it.
BH: For the ones who have never heard of you or may have never seen you fight how would you describe your style and abilities?
JD: They way I have been fighting is very aggressive, me last fight I sort of proved that I could go a few rounds walking down my opponent working his body. Explosive, fast, exciting, I think they're my main attributes at this point. There is a lot more for me to be learning and the package isn’t finished yet by a long shot. I don’t know what label to put on myself except that I am exciting, and very strong and durable and hopefully I will be able to add a few more words that that in the coming years.
BH: What prompted you to become a boxer?
JD: To be honest with you I was sort of born into boxing. Me father was a champion as an amateur and have a few fights as a professional. He had a family at the time so money was the only reason why I think he done it. So since I was at a boxing club watching people workout and there was never really pressure on me to fight. I was active in all kinds of sports as a kid like soccer and basketball and running and swimming and boxing has always been the main one that has stuck with me and I have proven to be better at.
BH: What is your training regime?
JD: I get up about six o’clock in the morning and run four to five and sometimes maybe six miles a day, just depends on how good I feel in the morning, usually five times a week. I go to the gym at ten o’clock with my coach and work out there about two and a half hours and then just the usual stuff pads, bags, skipping, lightweights. The workouts here is more mental challenging and I keep working and improving on them you know.
BH: The late great cut man Al Gavin was in your corner in your first four fights as a professional, how did it feel to work with such a legend in the sport?
JD: I was shell-shocked my first fight. My guy came up to me and said I have a cut man for you and I was like yeah, happy days. Then he said it was Al Gavin and I was like ah what, are you serious, Al Gavin! With his experiences I felt as if I was in a dreamland. He never spoke a lot to me but when he did he gave me a lot of words of encouragement. I was always thinking I have to impress this fellow cause he has been with the best. And to have the opportunity for him to work with me for my first four fights I just thought it was fantastic. Even my father, friends and coaches back home couldn’t get over the fact that Al Gavin was in my corner. I was very fortunate and lucky to have met the man before he passed away.
BH: Any news on your next fight?
JD: At the moment we are shooting to be fighting on the fourth of February. I’m not too sure on my opponent yet.
BH: You lost in the 2001 Amateurs in the USA-Ireland Dual in Dublin against Andre Ward, any thoughts on a rematch in the professional ranks against Ward?
JD: To be honest with you no, I never think that far ahead, but you never know what can happen in the future.
BH: When you are ready who would you like to step up against in your division?
JD: At the moment I am easy come, easy go; I am in great condition. I know there is a lot for me to learn and to experience. Hopefully when I am ready I would like to be anybody and everybody because I would like to become as close to the total package as I can be and do myself justice.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
JD: I want to thank you very much for calling me to be honest with you. I am looking forward to the future but I still find it a little corny in saying that I have a fan base because I don’t think I take myself seriously. [Laughs] But I do thank everybody for their support.
I would like to thank Bob Trieger of Full Court Press with his help on this interview and I would like to give a big shout out to John Duddy for his time, it was well appreciated.
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