Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Hits Keep On Coming

Above: "Ireland's" John Duddy is looking to fight Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik on January 26th in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Well, if you ever doubted that what Bob Arum wants, Bob Arum gets, then you needn’t look any further than the fact that reports are indicating that Kelly Pavlik will make the first defense of his WBC and WBO middleweight titles against “Ireland’s” John Duddy on January 26th in Atlantic City.

On the night that Pavlik separated former champion Jermain Taylor from his title belts and his senses in Atlantic City, Arum told the assembled media that he wanted “Pavlik to stay busy” and one of the fist names out of Arum’s mouth as the likely opponent was John Duddy.

However, before a Duddy fight can be cemented, Jermain Taylor has to give his blessing. Taylor has until October 29th to decide if he wants a contractually mandated rematch with Pavlik at a catch weight of 166 pounds. Most insiders feel that Taylor will not exercise the rematch clause, thus freeing Pavlik to face Duddy.

There can’t be many in the Taylor camp that would want to see that night again, unless of course they have a strong dislike for Jermain. The ending of the fight reminded me of when Marvis Frazier slumped to the floor against Mike Tyson back in 1986. I don’t know about you, but I can only watch that type of carnage unfold once a generation.

Whatever the case, the Pavlik vs. Duddy match could be another high profile fight in a long list of big matches that have been made within the sport in the past several months.

Duddy, a proven ticket seller in New York City is fighting this weekend in his native Ireland against late sub Prince Arron, from England, who sports a lowly 10-2 record with no knockout victories.

Top Rank was angling for the Pavlik vs. Duddy fight to be held at Madison Square Garden, but a crowded schedule at MSG will probably force the fight down the Garden State Parkway to the Jersey shore.

Duddy, who sports an undefeated record of 21-0 (16) KO’s is now trained by Don Turner who came into real prominence as the trainer of heavyweights Evander Holyfield and Michael Grant.

While the 28 year-old Duddy has high rankings from the WBC (#4) and WBO (#2) I say this is a fight that he should have waited on for at least another year. Duddy is just beginning to bloom under the watchful eye of Turner. It was at the urging of others that Duddy’s previous trainer was ousted and that Turner was brought in to add some nuance to a stagnating Duddy’s game.

One person in particular, whom I cannot name (to protect the innocent) I met at the Mayweather vs. De La Hoya fight in Las Vegas. This longtime boxing advisor told me that he urged Duddy’s handlers to get him a new trainer.

“They had no clue what they were doing,” said this Long Islander, who once worked with Gerry Cooney, among others. “For instance, they had the kid out running. They didn’t know how far he ran. They had no idea what the kid was eating. He was basically training himself and all he was doing was overtraining so that when it came time to fight he was beat out – he had nothing!”

While Duddy is a very charming, engaging and likable young man he hasn’t beaten anyone remotely resembling a top contender. He was in a life and death battle with the badly faded Yory Boy Campas and he looked ordinary in fights against “The Contender” fodder Anthony Bonsante and club-fighter Dupre Strickland. In his last fight in July against Alessio Furlan, Duddy was finally able to throw the shot that Don Turner wanted him to throw and he stopped Furlan in the 10th. Duddy has also showed an alarming tendency to bleed against his lowly competition.

It’s difficult in this day and age to turn down a title shot as well as the money that will accompany it. However, the managerial and promotional team known as “Irish Ropes” that have masterfully guided and marketed Duddy to this point should use more common sense before accepting a Pavlik fight. It’s one thing to fight for a title – but quite another to win it.

It says here that if the fight takes place as rumored that Pavlik demolishes Duddy in a complete mismatch.

Peter vs. Maskaev

I don’t know who the heavyweight champion of the WBC is and I don’t really care. But whether it’s Samuel Peter or Oleg Maskaev, the point will become moot on February 2nd as one of them will likely be leaving the ring at Madison Square Garden as the as the WBC heavyweight champion. Don King announced the fight on Tuesday and he will be the promoter.

Peter, who somehow arose from three knockdowns in his “title” winning effort against replacement opponent Jameel McCline on October 6th at Madison Square Garden didn’t prove much to me in winning that fight.

What I saw was a big lummox with an oafish appearance who was sloth-like after 10 minutes of fighting. At 250 pounds on his 6’0 1/2” frame, Peter simply proved to all in attendance, and there weren’t many, that he is a one trick pony. He also proved that if he can’t get you out with the big punch – he won’t get you at all. It was also evident that he needs to get his weight down to a more manageable number. At his current weight it is obviously having a detrimental effect on his stamina, handspeed and mobility. A 15-pound weight loss would make Peter a much more dangerous fighter.

But, credit where credit is due, Peter showed heart and grit in getting up off the deck three times. Most heavyweights in this day and age would stay down, but “Big Sam” got up and soldiered on.

The winner of Peter vs. Maskaev supposedly must face WBC Champion Emeritus, Dr. Vitali Klitschko, who claims he is an active fighter, even though he hasn’t fought since December 2004.

Klitschko, is retired one day, having surgery to repair various training injuries the next, and his latest announcement is that he plans to run for the mayor of Kiev, Ukraine.

“I will take part in the next elections for the mayor of Kiev,” Klitschko told a news service. “If the elections do take place, then all of the things that are happening in the Kiev Council have cemented my thought that I should run for this office. I will do my utmost to make Kiev a comfortable city, a green city for those who live in it, so that it remains a historical place and doesn't lose its identity.”

I say Peter probably beats Maskaev. Then the fight that I know that Emanuel Steward is frothing at the mouth to make is the rematch with Vitali’s brother Wladimir. As you remember, Wlad survived three knockdowns to decision Peter back in 2005. While Klitschko has made dramatic improvements, Peter has clearly gone backward in his progression and it says here that Klitschko wipes him out if they fight again.

If You Wear Three Belts Things Get Nuts

Juan Diaz found out in a hurry that being the wearer of three alphabet belts is going to be a headache. Diaz won the IBF lightweight title from Julio Diaz on Saturday night in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to add to his collection from the WBA and WBO.

On Tuesday, the WBO announced that Diaz must make his intentions known to them within ten days as to whether he will face WBO interim titlist Michael Katsidis. If Diaz doesn’t let them know his plans he will be stripped of the WBO belt he won from Acelino Freitas. Then Katsidis will be installed as the only wearer of the WBO crown. If the fight does happen it has to be within six months.

I say make the fight. Diaz looks virtually unbeatable to me at 135 pounds and his come ahead style makes all of his fights entertaining. Katsidis is an unknown talent, a diamond in the rough so to speak, and this could be his coming out party. However, Diaz seems to be aiming for Manny Pacquiao, but that fight is nothing more than a pipe dream.

There ain’t no way that Arum lets his man Filipino phenom, Pacquiao, anywhere near the “Baby Bull” who is promoted by arch-nemesis Don King.

Like I told you at the beginning, what Bob Arum wants, Bob Arum gets.

October 2007

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