Unbeaten middleweight John Duddy (26-0, 17 KOs) will make his pro boxing debut in New Jersey this Friday night when he fights Billy Lyell (18-7, 3 KOs) at the Prudential Center in Newark.
The Derry native got back into New York on Monday night after a five-week camp in Miami with trainer Pat Burns.
Standing in the opposite corner is Ohio native Billy Lyell, who is trained by Jack Lowe, the same man who has steered Kelly Pavlik to the WBO/WBC middleweight titles.
With an 18-7 record, the 24-year-old Lyell has a bit of mileage on the clock, and only three knockout victories in his career suggest that Duddy's chin should not be tested too much on April 24.
“Billy Lyell is a tough fighter. He comes from a good stable and if he does his work the way Kelly Pavlik does his, then he is a going to be a tough opponent and a fearsome competitor,” said Duddy ahead of the fight.
“The Prudential is a brand new arena, and it is a beautiful venue. I am looking forward to headlining there and giving the fans a chance to see me in action, and getting a step closer to hopefully the title shot that I am looking for.”
Lyell is coming off a defeat to Vanes Martirosyan on February 7 and is 5-5 for his last 10 fights. The most recognizable names on his ledger are defeats to Luis Ramon Campas by UD in June 2007, a TKO loss to Charles Whittaker in September 2006 and a TKO loss to James Kirkland in February 2002.
Duddy’s training partner Mark Calhoun was happy with how the training camp went when he spoke to IrishCentral on Monday.
“Everything went 100% to plan and we are looking forward to getting up to New York for the fight,” he said, adding that Duddy sparred with Antwone Smith while in Miami and was well prepared for Friday night’s challenge.
Irishcentral caught up with Duddy’s advisor Craig Hamilton on Monday to get his thoughts before fight night.
“I feel that John is going to build off his last fight, and we expect to see him do many of the things he did in the Vanda fight, only do it better,” he said.
For the past few weeks former Contender star and super middleweight world title challenger Peter Manfredo Junior has been telling all and sundry that he wants to come down to the middleweight division and fight Duddy.
The Pride of Providence, who plans to attend the fight on Friday, knocked out former Duddy opponent Walid Smichet on Saturday night in the seventh round and again expressed his desire to fight the Irishman afterwards. Hamilton was a bit perplexed about this game plan.
“The last thing I heard about Peter Manfredo is that he retired and now he is fighting again and he is calling John out. I don’t even follow it, as he is not a title holder and he is not even in John’s weight,” said Hamilton.
“It’s not that he doesn't hold any interest, but we are moving John in an upward direction, not laterally or any other way. We are trying to get John a shot at a championship.
“I am not quite sure what Peter Manfredo and his people are thinking here. He fought for a title when he fought Joe Calzaghe, and I don’t remember him challenging John Duddy, so I am not sure what they are getting at.”
Hamilton went on to add that they take all prospective opponents seriously, but that he would have thought Manfredo’s people would be trying to do what Duddy’s are – aiming to get their man a shot at a world title.
“What we are hoping to see from John would be more head motion and more combinations, more power combinations and more of the things he is doing. I think we will see an improved John as he works very hard,” said Hamilton.
The co-feature event will see former world champion Kassim Ouma (26-5) take on Gabriel Rosado (11-3) in a 10 round light middleweight contest. The latter's name may be familiar to Irish fans as the Philly fighter who handed James Moore his first professional defeat in June 2008.
Also appearing on the undercard is Jersey City fighter Patrick “Paddy Boy” Farrell (1-0, 1 KO) who will fight Doug Bowling of Wooster, OH (0-1) in a four round cruiserweight contest.
Meanwhile, James Moore (16-2, 10 KOs) will make his return to the ring on May 8 against Joseph De Los Santos (4-3-3) on a Ring Promotions card at Plattduetsche Park Restaurant, Franklin Square, Long Island. The Wicklow native has been keeping in shape since his defeat to Yuri Foreman in December and will fight the Dominican in an eight-round contest.
In other news, Henry Coyle (10-1, 9 KOs) will fight Neil Sinclair (31-7, 24 KOs) for the vacant Irish light middleweight title on the undercard of the Martin Rogan/Sam Sexton fight at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on May 15. The fight is scheduled for ten rounds and will see Coyle make his second appearance as a pro on Irish soil.
Though Sinclair is 3-3 for his last six fights, the 35-year-old Belfast native, who won a bronze medal at the 1992 World Junior Championships in Montreal, represents a substantial step up for the Mayo man.