Middleweight John Duddy (27-1, 17 KOs) takes on Juan Astorga (14-3-1, 9 KOs) in an eight round contest this Saturday night at the Theater in Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the WBA featherweight title fight between Yourkis Gamboa and Rogers Mtagwa, and the WBO featherweight title fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and Steven Luevano.

“John had a great camp and is still having a great camp, and he is going very well. He is in good spirits and he is in great shape. He feels good, he feels happy and he is anxious to fight. He is looking forward to having a big year,” managerial advisor Craig Hamilton told the Irish Voice on Tuesday.

Should Duddy, 30, prevail against Astorga, then he may be a man much in demand in March around the St. Patrick’s Day season. The “Derry Destroyer” will be appearing on his second consecutive Top Rank-promoted card on Saturday, and if he can build on his solid win over Michi Munoz at the same venue on October 10 then he will do his chances of appearing on bigger cards no harm.

“First things first -- he has to win on Saturday and he has to come out of it on Saturday without cuts. I’ve been fielding a lot of different offers for John and March is a possibility, but we cannot make a plan until we see how we come out of the fight. We have to wait for Saturday night to get it done,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton went on to say that he has spoken with promoters in Ireland, England and the U.S., and where Duddy would fight next would depend on the offer, the money on the table, the seriousness of the fight and where the matchup could take his fighter.   He again reiterated that it was their goal that Duddy gets a shot at a world title in this calendar year.

The grand plan was to have Duddy and Top Rank-promoted Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. face each other early in 2010, but those plans are on hold as Chavez tested positive for a diuretic after his recent November 15 fight against Troy Rowland in Las Vegas. His case is being heard before the Nevada Athletic Commission, and the unbeaten fighter could face a fine and a ban.

Hamilton believes that Duddy will have his work cut out for him this weekend against Astorga.

“He (Astorga) is a competent opponent. At this level, you don’t get anyone who is easy,” said Hamilton.

“He will present his own set of challenges to us, and we will take him as seriously as any opponent. Our focus is to win the fight and continue to move forward, and that is how we look at it.”

Astorga is a 31-year-old Mexican-born, Texas-based fighter who was last in action on November 13 when he KO’d Matt Gockel in round six in Kansas City. Astorga has just won two fights on the bounce after two consecutive losses in 2008, a defeat to Ronald Hearns in February that was followed by a loss to James Cook in April.

Astorga's only other loss in his four-year plus career was to former Contender TV show participant Joey Gilbert in May 2007.

With nine knockouts on his ledger it would seem that Astorga packs somewhat of a punch, but every time he has stepped up in class, the durable fighter has come up short. Duddy will aim to make sure that run of form continues Saturday night. 

In other news, Irish American light welterweight Danny O’Connor (10-0, 3 KOs) is back in action this Friday night at the Roxy in Boston when he takes on the experienced Darelle Sukerow (14-15-1, 5kos) in a six round contest. O’Connor fought eight times in 2009 and is straight back into the squared circle early in 2010 as he continues to build his winning record.

According to boxrec.com, light middleweight Henry Coyle is scheduled to fight on a card at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana on February 20. If it goes ahead it will be the Mayo man’s first fight back after being TKO’d in round three by Neil Sinclair for the Irish light middleweight title last May.

Finally, former U.S.-based lightweight Oisin Fagan (25-7, 15 KOs) will fight Andy Murray (17-0) for the Irish title on February 13 at the National Stadium in Dublin.