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Duddy vs. Howe: John Needs Badly To Impress

John DuddyBy Tony Krebs: Undefeated middleweight contender John Duddy (24-0, 17 KOs) will be hoping for a change of luck this Saturday night when he goes up against Charles Howe (17-4-2, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout at the The Castle, in Boston, Massachusetts. Duddy, now 29, is coming off a poor performance against Walid Smichet in February, a bloody and grueling bout which Duddy won by a 10-round majority decision. In the process of winning, however, Duddy was hurt on several occasions in the first three rounds by Smichet, and cut badly over his left eye. The cut would later need 33 stitches to close the huge gaping wound.

Though Duddy, ranked #3 in the WBO and #5 in the WBA middleweight division, eventually got the decision, he paid a severe price by losing out on a big money fight with WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in June. The cut, combined with how badly Duddy looked, getting battered around the ring by the C-level Smichet in the early rounds of the fight, made Duddy a non-appealing opponent for Pavlik, who wanted to fight Duddy because of his brawling style, his unbeaten record, his Hollywood looks, and most importantly because of his huge appeal with boxing fans on the East coast. It seemed that Duddy was hell bent on trying to look good against Smichet, and forgetting all about defense altogether, Duddy went right after Smichet in the early rounds.

Smichet, a slow, stationary slugger, with enormous power and little defense, probably thought it was an early birthday present for him, because not only did he have Duddy right there in front of him where he could easily find him with his big hooks, he also had the added benefit of having an opponent that rarely used his jab, at least in the early going. Duddy immediately began firing hooks to Smichet’s midsection, standing right on top of him and putting a lot of power in each shot.

Indeed, if the fight had ended in the first minute of the 1st round, one would think that Duddy had it in him to be a future champion without any problems. However, after the first minute Smichet began serving Duddy up with a steady flow of huge hooks to the head, almost immediately hurting Duddy, staggering him in the process. Instead of collecting himself and moving out of range of the slower Smichet, Duddy stayed directly in front of Smichet trying to trade shots with him.

In this case, Duddy, with his moderate power, wasn’t up to the task of effectively firing in the trenches with Smichet. It’s not that Smichet had a lot of ability or anything close to approaching true boxing skill, it’s that Duddy was making totally easy for him by standing right in front of him where Smichet could hit him with his big shots. Say what you will about Duddy, though, his chin is top rate, better than most other top middleweights in the division.

He took Smichet’s big shots, blocking most of them as usual with his face, and eventually tired Smichet out in the process. By the 4th round, Smichet had in effect shot his load and no longer could muster up more than a few token big shots per rounds. In the meantime, Duddy, now a bloody and battered mess, was shellacking him with shots to the head.

The remainder of the fight was all Duddy, as he stood back and jabbed and hooked Smichet repeatedly, winning the remainder of the fight with relative ease. The damage had been done, though. Duddy had been made to look bad by a fighter that had no business laying a finger on Duddy, much less coming close to knocking him out like Smichet had almost done.

Now, only an incredible four months since that fight, Duddy will be making his return against the 33 year-old Howe. Don’t expect this fight to last for long, since Howe has only fought won decent fighter in his career, losing by a 1st round TKO to Joey Gilbert, a Contestant on the NBC boxing reality television show The Contender last September. Apparently, Duddy’s management don’t want to take any chances with him looking bad again and perhaps losing, hence their matching him with a very soft opponent in Howe.

If things go good, and Duddy performs impressively, he might get a shot against Pavlik in the near future. However, he’ll likely have to stand in line for awhile and cool his heals. Pavlik has a lot of other options available for him and Duddy may have lost his chance and will have to wait a while longer. Ideally, Duddy won’t try and take Howe out immediately on Saturday night, and instead will working on using boxing and movement to win a decision. Duddy needs to work on his non-slugging skills, for that is what is only hope of ever winning a major title in the middleweight division. He certainly as no hope of ever trading shots with any of the champions and winning in that way.

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