Middleweight John Duddy (29-2, 18 KOs) lost a unanimous decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (41-0-1, 30 KOs) on Saturday night in San Antonio,Texas in an all-out slug fest in front of a noisy Alamodome crowd.
The Irishman nearly had Chavez out on his feet in the sixth round when he caught him with a huge right hand, but the Mexican survived and dominated the second half of the fight.
The early going was very close, and Chavez, who was trying to stay outside and use his jab from distance, edged a busy first round.
However, Duddy’s pressure game plan worked in the second round when he imposed himself on Chavez, cutting the ring and throwing combinations that won him the round.
In the third, Chavez decided to abandon the fight on the outside and have a toe-to-toe brawl with the Irishman.
The Mexican's overhand right was stinging Duddy's left eye, which would swell up significantly over the course of the fight.
Chavez was landing the cleaner shots and began to dominate. While Duddy was fighting hard all through the third, fourth and fifth rounds, he was getting tagged too much to be able to establish himself in the fight as his Mexican opponent grew in confidence.
In the sixth round the momentum changed when Duddy rocked Chavez with a huge right, but Chavez covered up well and managed to get out of the round intact.
Chavez came storming back in the seventh and began to take over the fight, the overhand right hand doing untold damage to Duddy’s left eye and further putting him ahead in the bout.
At the end of the ninth round, trainer Harry Keitt told Duddy that he would need a knockout to win. That knockout never came, but the 31-year-old showed his toughness and spirit to continue fighting when on several occasions it looked like he was about to get stopped.
However, the Derry native stood and traded in the middle of the ring in a competitive last round and ended the fight on his feet.
The judges scored the fight 120-108, 116-112 and 117-111 in favor of Chavez.
After the fight, Chavez paid tribute to Duddy, saying he was a great fighter.
When asked about the shot in the sixth when Chavez seemed in trouble, Duddy said, “I knew I had him hurt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t good enough to finish him off. He put on good pressure and punched solidly with both hands.”
In the ring afterwards, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum spoke about when he would like to see Duddy fight next.
“As soon as he gets a rest and as soon as Yuri (Foreman’s) knee heals, we are going to sell out Madison Square Garden next year.”