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Duddy To Face Eastman on December 8th

Irish middleweight challenger John Duddy (22-0, 17 KOs) has signed on to face former European middleweight world champion Howard Eastman (42-5, 35 KOs) on December 8th, at the Kings Hall, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Duddy, 28, was recently rumored to be negotiating a a fight with World Boxing Council/World Boxing Organization middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. However, that bout went by the way side when Jermain Taylor elected to enact the rematch clause in his contract, making it necessary for Pavlik to fight an immediate rematch with him rather than taking on any other challengers, such as Duddy. In choosing the 36 year-old Eastman as an opponent, Duddy appears to be taking a calculated risk, as Eastman may be getting old and clearly isn’t what he once was, he still hits incredibly hard, especially in the first seven to eight rounds of his fights.

However, Eastman has lost four out of his six fights, since losing a one-sided 12-round decision to then middleweight world champion Bernard Hopkins in February 2005. Most of the losses have been to excellent opponents, like Arthur Abraham, Edison Miranda. However, Eastman’s last fight, a loss to Wayne Elcock, shows that Eastman is showing serious signs of decline in his one awesome abilities. None the less, his power is still extraordinary, and wit the right opponent (slow and plodding), Eastman can still be very dangerous.

Duddy, it would seem, would be the perfect such opponent for Eastman to fight, in that Duddy is not particularly fast and he has a bad tendency to stand directly in front of his opposition, trying to slug with them. Duddy, however, doesn’t remotely have the kind of power to be successful with the slugging style that he uses, and has only stayed unbeaten up to this point because of the soft opposition that he’s faced. Indeed, the his toughest opponent to date, Luis Ramon Campas, came within an eyelash of beating Duddy in September 2006. Even worse, Campas was perhaps 10 years past his prime, yet he still came very close to defeating Duddy. Not a good sign.

Since then, Duddy has been matched very carefully, keeping him away from big sluggers, or the type with heavy hands like Campas. In choosing Eastman, Duddy is taking a tremendous step up in the level of his competition, as Eastman, even at this point, is far better than Campas. For this reason, I’m picking Eastman by knockout, likely before the sixth round. This loss will be a knockout blow to Duddy’s career, wiping out any possibility for big payday against Kelly Pavlik or one of the other middleweight champions. I applaud Duddy for having the courage to take such a tough opponent like Eastman, but I still think he’s going to lose big time.

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