30 June 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Ireland’s middleweight contender John Duddy made a winning return to the ring in Boston on Saturday night, claiming a unanimous points victory over the durable Charles Howe, but it quickly transpired that his future may lie at 154lbs.
Duddy was in complete control throughout his ten-rounder with How, boxing cleverly and utilising his jab to surprisingly good effect as he claimed a commanding victory with scores of 100-90 on all three judges scorecards.
Duddy had been hoping to claim a stoppage in his first fight since labouring to a majority points win over Walid Smichet in February, a bout in which he sustained horrific cuts which effectively ruined his hopes of a shot at middleweight king Kelly Pavlik.
However, despite rocking Howe with a massive left hand in the second round, sending his American foe stumbling back onto the ropes, and dominating nearly every single second of the fight with a more controlled approach, Duddy did not manage a knockdown.
In spite of that, though, he was pleased with his efforts and felt Howe deserved immense credit for managing to say on his feet.
“I caught him with a lot of shots and thought he was ready to go a few times, but [Howe] showed he is a true warrior. He’s as tough as they come, the undefeated Duddy stated.
“I don’t have to be brave all the time. I decided to stop being so hard-headed and do a bit of boxing.”
And Duddys new trainer, Pat Burns, was pleased with the way in which his fighter refrained from being drawn into a brawl, something he has been repeatedly guilty of in the past.
Jermain Taylor’s former mentor commented: “When I looked at films of his earlier fights, it seemed as if whenever he got hit he had a tendency to get his Irish up and fight like he was coming out of a bar.
“What we worked a lot on was keeping him patient and fighting under control, using his jab the way he did.
He added: “I don’t want to take anything away from his previous trainers [Don Turner and Harry Keitt] – I’ve won one fight with John. Those guys won 24 with him.”
And Burns revealed that he is hoping to convince Duddy and his promotional team, Irish Ropes, that dropping down to light-middleweight would a wise move for the Northern Irishman.
Indeed, speculation is rife that Duddy is already closing in on a shot at IBF champing Verno Phillips.
“The more I saw of him [Duddy], the more persuaded I became that 154 should be his optimal fighting weight,” Burns is quoted as saying by espn.com.
“When I asked John about making it, he said ‘No problem.’ The final decision rests with Irish Ropes, of course, but that’s my opinion, and John is on board with it, too.”