By Jay Mwamba
John Duddy's June 26 "Latin Fury" headliner with undefeated Mexican starlet Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. was finalized last week after the Derry Destroyer signed a contract for the scheduled ten-rounder in San Antonio, Texas.
"It's definitely on now, thank God," Duddy, who's back in the top ten in the World Boxing Council [WBC] middleweight rankings, confirmed on Sunday.
The non-title contest will be the main event at the 15,000-capacity Alamodome, which Duddy [29-1, 18 KOs] expects to be packed with pro-Chavez fans from both sides of the border.
"I'll be ready for anything," he said, reiterating that he had no trepidation fighting within a shout of Mexico.
"If anything, it will make me more determined. There's nothing like going into the lion's den. I don't think there'll be too many happy Mexicans when I'm done," Duddy confidently added.
He's already in gym preparing for what could be a career-defining bout and pleased with his progress under trainer Harry Keitt.
"Everything's grand," Duddy, who's 30, noted.
Sizing up the 41-0-1 Chavez, who has 30 KOs to his name, Duddy said: "He's tailor-made for me. He's tall, stands up straight and is a big target for my body shots."
He predicted that it would be a clash of left hooks since that's both their best punch.
Underscoring the importance of the fight, Duddy, who's climbed to eighth in the world at 160-pounds in the latest WBC rankings, said: "It's a great stage and platform for me to make some noise."
Earlier, trainer Harry Keitt charged that the 24 year-old Chavez was living off his legendary father's name and that Duddy would exploit that. Chavez' namesake father is a former six-time world champion who's regarded as one of the greatest fighters in history.
"We also want to capitalize on his father's name by beating him," he said.
"John will beat him if he's in tip top shape and when we finish [training] he will be in tip top conditioning," Keitt pledged, adding: "It will be a blood and guts fight."
Like his charge, Keitt is unconcerned over fighting in a location that favors Chavez, saying: "We're gonna take the judges out of the [equation]. We can't make it close."
He cited Duddy's last fight, a split points decision over Chavez' fellow Mexican Michael Medina in Dallas on March 13 whose scoring quite a few people thought was closer than the action.
"[Medina] may have won three rounds at most and they made it a split decision - we thank them for the warning," Keitt said.
TITLE FIGHT BOOST?
Meanwhile, Duddy's world title hopes may have received a massive boost following Spaniard Sergio Martinez' upset victory over hitherto WBC-WBO champion Kelly Pavlik in Atlantic City last Saturday.
A long time Duddy target, Pavlik lost a 12-round unanimous points decision to Martinez who now has the option of making a voluntary defense before tackling the number one contender in a mandatory defense.
Theoretically, Duddy could be considered a compelling enough challenger, financially and otherwise, by the Martinez camp, especially if he, as expected, defeats Chavez in San Antonio.
Duddy's climb on the world rankings comes on the back of victories over Michi Munoz, Juan Astorga and the aforementioned Medina in recent months. The Derry Destroyer is also ranked 14th by the World Boxing Organization [WBO].
Duddy is one of three world ranked Irish middleweights.
European champion Matthew Macklin is fifth in the IBF, sixth in the WBC, seventh in the WBO and ninth in the WBA; while Andy Lee is 12th in the WBA.