By Jay Mwamba
John Duddy was scheduled to announce his retirement from boxing late Tuesday in New York, scuttling a block-buster March 12 fight with Irish middleweight rival Andy Lee.
"He feels that he's not ready to fight and that he's mentally not there," a Duddy Boxing source told the Echo while the Derry Destroyer drafted a farewell statement.
The charismatic Duddy, who turned pro in 2003 with a first round TKO of Tarek Rached, dropped a 12-round decision to Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in his last fight on June 26, 2010. He leaves the ring with a 29-2 [18 KOs] ledger.
Before Duddy's decision, his long-anticipated clash with Lee, which was several years in the making, had been set for the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.
According to the plan, the HBO cable network was to broadcast the scheduled 10-rounder the weekend before St. Patrick's Day. It was to be on the undercard of Sergio Martinez' 160-pound WBC title defense against Serhiy Dzinziruk.
Sports Digest/Boxing quoted Emanuel Steward, the once-beaten Lee's trainer/manager who's long pursued a scrap with Duddy, as predicting that it would be the biggest fight in Irish history since the legendary showdown between heavyweights Jack Dempsey and Jack Tunney in 1927.
"'It has all the ingredients for an epic and classic battle," Steward said. "Styles make fights and the contrasting styles of Lee and Duddy are very evident. Andy is a technical boxer who carries a lethal punch and John is a courageous ring warrior who likes a bloody war. Both fighters have plenty of heart and can fight in the trenches when the going gets tough, it will make an unbelievable fight."
Said Lee [24-1, 18 KOs]: "There has never been a better time for the fight. It is a fight were the stakes are stalked high and that neither fighter can afford to lose, a defining moment in our careers.
"It is an 'Irish High Noon Shootout' a winner takes all fight, where both fighters will be 100 percent fired up for battle with their reputations and careers on the line and with the winner taking home more than his fight purse."
The 26-year-old Lee, is ranked fifth by the WBA and 14th by the WBC. Duddy [29-2, 18 KOs] is five years older and no longer ranked among the top 15 in any of the major sanctioning bodies, although he appears at number 14 on the WBC's junior middleweight [154-pound] list.
WALKOVER FOR EGAN
Old foe Dorian Anthony's late withdrawal in Los Angeles last Wednesday handed Irish light heavyweight ace Kenny Egan a walkover win in their second scheduled World Series of Boxing [WSB] scrap.
Earlier at the Nokia Theatre in downtown LA, middleweight John Joe Joyce, a compatriot of Egan's on the 2008 Beijing Olympics squad, made a losing debut in the semi-pro team competition. The Limerick product, a new signing by Egan's Miami Gallos team, was bested over five rounds by hot American prospect Russell Lamour.
And in Paris two days later, sizzling Cavan bantamweight John Joe Nevin made it three wins in as many starts with a dominating performance over Ukraine's Vitaliy Volkov at the Halle Carpentier.
Egan was the lone Miami victor on a rough night for the Gallos who succumbed 4-1 to the Los Angeles Matadors. His opponent, Anthony, reportedly withdrew after suffering a pre-fight injury.
Ironically, Egan himself was returning from a mandatory 45-day medical suspension imposed after a clash of heads during his first win over Anthony last November left him with a cut.
Egan will get another chance to don the gloves next Thursday when Miami return to Los Angeles. Tickets for that show, starting at $20, are available from Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
John Joe Joyce became the third Irishman after Egan and Nevin to join the WSB and the first to lose in the tournament.
His hooks were no match for Lamour's quick hands and combination punching and the Irish newcomer was kept under pressure throughout the bout.
The three judges scored the contest 50-45 [twice] and 49-46 in Lamour's favor.
"He was kind of rocking the whole time so I had to time my punches a little bit," the American winner said. "I got my timing right after a few rounds and started doing some damage. If it went a few more rounds I would have definitely stopped him."
Among the spectators at the Nokia Theatre were former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.
"The Matadors are my home team," Holyfield said. "I love these guys - they fight with a lot of heart."
Backed by some 2,000 fans in the French capital, unbeaten John Joseph Nevin led Paris United to a 4-1 victory over Milano Thunder. He was stellar in the opening bout against the Ukrainian Volkov.
Nevin started aggressively and built up a commanding lead to win by unanimous decision. He also tops the individual standings at bantamweight, ahead of his teammate Nordine Oubaali.
The top-ranked boxers in the WSB Team Championships will qualify for the WSB Individual Championships, which will act as a qualifier for the Olympics.
The WSB is an annually recurring global competition incepted by the International Boxing Association, the governing body of the amateur game, with teams in Europe, Asia and the Americas. It allows boxers to compete at a semi-pro level while maintaining their eligibility to compete in the Olympics and other top amateur tournaments.