Duddy and Irish Ropes Break Down

November 19, 2008

By Declan O’Kelly
THE gloves are off in more than one sense between John Duddy and Irish Ropes Promotions. Late last Tuesday a release was circulated stating that Irish Ropes could not deliver the services of Co. Derry native Duddy for the November 21 fight against Sam Hill at the Roseland Ballroom and that the card had been cancelled.

Events seem to have unfolded as follows — Duddy returned to New York from Ireland at the start of October. On October 8 he attended a press conference in Jack Demseys to promote the November 21 card.

On that day the 29-year-old did interviews with press and spoke of how much he was looking forward to reuniting with trainer Pat Burns and fighting in front of his New York fans again. A few days later he left New York for Miami to start training camp.

Regular calls from the Irish Voice to Duddy’s promoter Eddie McLoughlin (brother Tony McLoughlin is John’s manager), right up to the night before the fight was cancelled, hinted at no discord between the fighter and his management/promotion company. But Duddy apparently broke camp and returned to New York in early November.

Once McLoughlin heard his fighter was back in the city, every attempt he made to contact him and trainer Burns was unsuccessful. He was subsequently informed through Duddy’s lawyer, Gary Friedman, that the undefeated fighter wished to leave Irish Ropes, and that any communication should be made through the attorney.

“Well, obviously, John is not too happy with the circumstances and he wants out. There are divorce proceedings going on and let’s see what happens,” McLoughlin told the Irish Voice Monday. The president of Irish Ropes, who is being represented by Walter Kane, could not give any particular reason as to why this abrupt parting occurred.

“To be honest with you I don’t know what he was unhappy about. I would have been happy to have met with him had he given me any indication that he wasn’t happy,” continued McLoughlin.

Internet reports over the weekend alluded to Long Island boxing advisor and owner of Jo Sports Inc –- a company that sells boxing memorabilia — Craig Hamilton being somehow involved. When the Irish Voice got in touch with Hamilton he clarified his role in the situation.

“I am working with Gary (Friedman),” said Hamilton, who added that he was doing so in the capacity of boxing advisor. Hamilton went on to say that outside the facts –- that Duddy was in a dispute with his promotional company Irish Ropes and his manager Tony McLoughlin, with whom he is still under contract -– he had no other comment or opinion at this time.

Hamilton has worked as a management advisor for heavyweight fighters Michael Grant and Gerald Nobles. On the Jo Sports website, Hamilton is listed as being management consultant to heavyweight Kevin Burnett. The 26-year-old has a record of 13-1 and is trained by Pat Burns.

Duddy spent a large part of his fighting career at Irish Ropes on a gentleman’s agreement until both parties signed a contract in spring 2006. That agreement has two and a half years to run. As the Irish Voice went to press on Tuesday evening, a call placed to Duddy for comment has not been returned.

Duddy and Irish Ropes have experienced some highs and lows over the past five years. The march to an unbeaten 25-0 included a blazing run of stoppages and knockouts to begin with, and then some notable wins over veterans Freddie Cuevas, Yory Boy Campas and Howard Eastman.

During that time there have been three changes of trainer, and Duddy has boxed on both sides of the Atlantic. They almost made it to a title shot and anything around a $1.2 million payday to fight middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

A deal was all but signed until a sub par performance in a win against Walid Smichet and severe cuts sustained in the fight at MSG on February 23 shattered the Pavlik dream for Duddy. However, the Derry man regrouped under latest trainer Pat Burns, and a good performance against Charles Howe in June was followed by the decision that Duddy would come down to fight at 154 pounds (light middleweight).

Intense speculation followed that Duddy would get a title shot against IBF light middleweight champ Verno Phillips. Though both parties agreed in principal to the fight, nothing was finalized and the fight never materialized.

The November 21 fight was seen as a warm-up for a HBO televised fight on January 17 against Ronald Hearns in a world title eliminator. A call placed to Dibella Entertainment’s matchmaker (Lou DiBella is Hearns’ promoter) to see if they had any update on the January fight was not returned before press time.

In other news inside the ring, light middleweight Henry Coyle made his homecoming sweet when he won a 78-74 points decision over Sergejs Savrinovics in Castlebar, Co. Mayo last Saturday night.

Birmingham’s “Sweet Dee” Mitchell was the original opponent and took part in the weigh in on Friday. However, the 32-year-old was unable to provide the proper medical certification and a late call was made to Savrinovics at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.

The 27-year-old flew in to Dublin and drove across the country in time to face Coyle. The Mayo man was the busier fighter against his durable opponent, but Coyle was tagged time and time again by the Latvian’s right uppercut.

The upside for Coyle is that he took these shots well and got some hard rounds against a tough professional. Coyle is now 9-1.

In the main event of the night, Bernard Dunne (27-1) moved closer to a possible world title tilt next year when he defeated Uruguayan Christian Faccio. Keeping the South American at bay throughout the fight using his reach advantage, Dunne was doing everything he was expected to until a nasty clash of heads opened a cut in his forehead in the seventh that caused the fight to be stopped at the end of that stanza.

The doctor at ringside judged the lesion too severe for Dunne to continue, so the fight went to the referee’s scorecard. With Dunne leading 70-65, the technical decision win was given to the Dubliner, and he can now look forward to a big fight in 2009 once he heals up.

Other Irish fighters to have bouts announced this week include the Hyland brothers (Patrick and Eddie) who will fight in a Bob Duffy promoted card on December 4 at Roseland Ballroom.

According to boxrec.com, West Coast-based Dubliner Dean Byrne (9-0) will fight on December 20 at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood California.

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