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Duddy in limbo as world falls apart

AS IN politics, a week is a long time in boxing. Just seven days ago, John Duddy stood on the threshold of earning a shot at the world middleweight title. All he had to do was beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Unfortunately for the New York-based Derryman, Chavez nursed the very same ambition, and it was the Mexican who came through with a hard-earned, but fully deserved, win to dash Duddy's hopes.

So while the victor will get the chance to emulate his famous father, the great Julio Cesar Chavez, as a world champion, Duddy is left pondering where he goes from here.

It has to be said that the 31-year-old Irishman's options are limited. His popularity and crowd-pleasing style will continue to make him marketable, but any further talk of world title bouts seems pointless.

Bob Arum, promoter of last weekend's bout in San Antonio, Texas, is keen to feature Duddy again and has mooted a match with former WBC light-middleweight champion Yuri Foreman.

A return home to focus on a shot at the European or British titles might be advantageous, but Duddy fears he will be quickly forgotten if he departs the US scene for an extended spell.

"When I've fought back in Ireland, the fights have been successes for me personally, but no one in the States knew they had happened, they thought I had fallen off the planet," he said.

"If you get beaten in America, the whole world knows you've been beaten, and if you win in America, the whole world knows you've won."



Showdown

There's no doubt the Irish would love to see Duddy topping a bill here, and a showdown with either of the other two world-rated Irishmen, Matthew Macklin and Andy Lee, would have massive appeal.

But such a dream match is unlikely to happen. None of the trio wants to risk losing to one of his Irish rivals, and the only way such a bout would be agreed is if a major title was at stake.

Macklin had been wrestling with the dilemma of either challenging Darren Barker for the European title, or taking part in an official eliminator for the International Boxing Federation belt.

The IBF made it clear that he couldn't do both. If he took the European route, he would have to forego his agreed world title eliminator against Giovanni Lorenzo for the right to challenge champion Sebastian Sylvester.

Brian Peters, Macklin's manager, said Matthew had opted to try and regain the European title, which he won with a first round stoppage of Amin Asikainen last September, but subsequently relinquished.

UK promoter Frank Warren won the purse bids to stage the bout and it is scheduled to take place in Birmingham, Macklin's hometown, on September 11.

Limerick's Lee has also been seeking a European title challenge to Barker, whom he beat as an amateur, but now he'll have to wait and see how Macklin gets on.

Lee is scheduled to box in the US during the summer, and Peters plans to have him back on an Irish bill, probably in Limerick, later in the year.


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