John Duddy (26-1, 17 KOs) lost to Billy Lyell (19-7, 3 KOs) at the Prudential Center in Newark on Friday night by split decision.
Lyell dominated the early rounds in a tough battle, but Duddy seemed to be in the ascendancy during the middle of the fight. The last third of the contest was toe-to-toe action with little between the two fighters.
Duddy started sluggishly and Lyell timed his overhand right time and time again when the Irishman’s left hand fell after throwing a jab, snapping Duddy’s head back on several occasions.
Duddy was cut on the left eyebrow in the third and another lesion would open just above the first cut later in the fight. The 29-year-old could not get his jab going, and the discipline with which he dominated Matt Vanda in his last fight was missing.
Two of the three judges gave Lyell the first four founds on the scorecards, such was the impression the smaller man was making.
In the fifth, Lyell seemed to run out of steam a little and Duddy’s jab and combinations started to find their target. One of the shots opened a deep cut on the bridge of Lyell’s nose that bled heavily for the remainder of the fight.
The second half of the fight was a much tighter affair with Duddy taking to the task and seemingly outworking his opponent.
However, the very tough and sturdy Lyell stood his ground in the middle of the ring and fought back with overhand lefts and the right hands that swayed the judges.
After an all action last round, the judges' card came back in favor of the American. Thomas Kaczmarek saw the fight 97-93 Lyell, Lawrence Layton scored it 96-94 Duddy and John Stewart gave the fight to Lyell, 98-92.