JOHN Duddy (25-0) will fight on November 6 in Long Island and, all going to plan, will take on Ronald Hearns (19-0) in January 2009 in New York City.
Irish Ropes supremo Eddie McLoughlin has been in negotiations with Hearns' promoter Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment about the January match. The 29-year-old Hearns, son of the legendary Tommy, will fight two times before this proposed bout; this Wednesday in New Hampshire against Alexander Pacheo Quiroz and on October 24 against Paul Clavette in Montreal.
If he emerges unscathed and unbeaten, and Duddy does the same in his November fight, the two should meet early in the New Year.
"We are very close to a deal," said DiBella. "Both John and Ronald will fight in the fall, and there is an overwhelmingly strong possibility that the fight will take place in January," continued the promoter, who added that there was strong TV interest in the bout.
"John is a step up for Ronald and Ronald is a step up for John, and it will be a truly competitive fight," said DiBella, who stressed that both boxers needed a fight of this magnitude to vault the winner closer to the big time.
Though no opponent has been confirmed for the November Duddy fight, the fight night is being put together by former professional heavyweight fighter Joey Winters and DiBella. The event is scheduled to take place in Westbury, Long Island.
For Irish Ropes, thoughts of Hearns subside until the November date is out of the way. "John will top the bill in a 10 rounder against someone who is around the 156-157 pound range and someone who has been around the horn a bit," said McLoughlin.
"It will be a fight to keep John from going rusty, to keep his name out there and obviously get him more time with Pat Burns after the great improvement from the last fight. Hopefully they can build on that and get better."
If they successfully negotiate this hurdle, then Hearns will loom large in the fray. "It is a statement fight. John needed these to get the interest from TV, but a good performance here would be great and it could be very lucrative for the winner," said McLoughlin.
The January fight is slated to take place in the third or fourth week of the month.
McLoughlin is not treating the fight against Hearns lightly. "We were disappointed not to get a fight for the world championship, but believe me this is not going to be an easy fight. Hopefully he (Hearns) will be 21 or 22-0 by January and Duddy will be 26-0. He's very tall, he is 6'3" and John is going to have to get inside that jab, but we are very confident with the expertise of Burns that we'll come up with a game plan."
Duddy is still in Ireland but is expected to head down to Miami to reunite with Burns toward the end of the month.
In other news, reports were coming out of Ireland last week that the Hyland brothers - three professional fighters from Tallaght: super featherweight Eddie 10-1, 3 KOs, featherweight Patrick 14-0, 7 KOs and super bantamweight Paul, 12-0, KOs - had agreed a deal with DiBella to have a couple of shows in NY each side of Christmas.
Two of the three brothers have fought in the U.S. before. Paul won in Saratoga Springs in July 2007 against Arthur Parker and Patrick won at the Orpheum in Boston on March 15 of this year against Mike Dobbs.
"I haven't had meaningful conversation with their representatives," DiBella told the Irish Voice. "They have a great story. I have interest, but the supposition that a deal is done is premature."
Another Irish fighter that DiBella has been keeping an eye on is Olympic middleweight bronze medalist Darren Sutherland.
"I would like to bring Sutherland over, I like his style and his potential as a professional. Sutherland was on my radar screen before the Olympics and is still on my radar screen now," DiBella said, adding that he thought that potential would diminish if he chose to stay in Ireland to develop as a professional.
In other news, Maureen Shea made quick work of Ellsha Cleffman with a left hook after 1:54 of the first round ending the fight at Yonkers PAL last Wednesday night. The WBA top ranked super featherweight now moves to 13-0.
Finally, middleweight Matthew Macklin (22-2, 16 KOs), now trained by Richie Woodhall, beat Francis Cheka on points in Manchester on September 6 and, according to boxrec.com, is due to fight next in Birmingham on October 31.