Read more: The Fighting Irish set for Shamrock Standoff - SEE POLL

Saying ‘the fire has burnt out “ New York-based middleweight John Duddy, 31, announced his shocking retirement from professional boxing.

The Derry man’s dramatic announcement came just prior to a HBO televised match with fellow Irishman Andy Lee that was supposed to take place at Foxwood’s casino in Connecticut in March that would have paid him in excess of $100,000.

The fight was scheduled to take place on the undercard of the Sergio Martinez versus Serhiy Dzinziruk  bout on March 12, and was due to be televised live by HBO.

It is believed that Duddy will now pursue an acting career full-time. Duddy will star next month in the Atlantic Theater’s new production of a play directed by Dubliner Jimmy Smallhorne in New York called Kid Shamrock and he also has a bit part in the new FX series, Lights Out.

The statement released by Duddy on Tuesday said, “After a great deal of soul-searching, I have decided to retire from boxing.

“In many ways, continuing to fight would be the easy course of action. I have been offered the opportunity to fight Andy Lee on HBO for a purse in excess of $100,000. A win would put me in position to fight for a world championship. This is not an opportunity that I cast aside lightly.

“For more than 20 years, I loved being a boxer. I still feel that it's an enormous honor to be a boxer. But I don't love it anymore.

“I no longer have the enthusiasm and willingness to make the sacrifices that are necessary to honor the craft of prizefighting. I used to love going to the gym. Now it's a chore. I wish I still had the hunger, but I don't. The fire has burned out. And I know myself well enough to know that it won't return.

“It would be unfair to my fans, my trainer and manager, and everyone else involved in the promotion of my fights for me to continue boxing when I know that my heart isn't in it. I've always given 100% in the gym and in my fights. I have too much respect for boxing and the people around me to continue fighting when I know that I can't do that anymore.

“I haven't accomplished everything that I wanted to achieve in boxing. But I've had a rewarding career. I've enjoyed the satisfaction of winning 29 professional fights and learned lessons from my two losses.

“I look forward to finding future challenges that bring as much passion and joy into my life as boxing has over the past twenty years.

“I give you my word. I will not come back.”

Lee was last in action on October 2 when he TKO’ed Troy Lowry (27-11) in round four of their contest.  Since then a rematch with Vera was touted for February 4, but then Lee was a name mentioned in connection with a title fight with WBC champion Martinez.

When that title fight fell through, Lee was given a spot on the undercard.

Duddy was last in action on June 26 when he lost a unanimous decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at Cowboys Stadium.

Read more: The Fighting Irish set for Shamrock Standoff - SEE POLL

John Duddy� AP