Boxing: Duddy's title bid gathers pace as rival hits deck in first round
IRISH middleweight John Duddy took slightly more than a New York minute to dispose of Mexico born Juan Astorga at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Astorga was dropped to one knee early in the first round of the scheduled eight rounder, and was floored with a left to the body seconds later and referee Wayne Kelly called a halt 1:55 into the frame.
The victory, Duddy's ninth in a row at the famous New York venue, saw the Derryman improve his career run to 28 wins from 29 outings (18KOs).
It also enhances his chance of getting a world title shot sometime this year, although Astorga's willingness to adopt horizontal positions at the first available opportunity leaves question marks over the quality of opposition.
But speaking after the fight, coach Harry Keitt said that Duddy's next outing would be on the Manny Pacquiao v Joshua Clottey undercard at the Cowboy Stadium in Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on March 13.
Duddy and Astorga met on the Yuriorkis Gamboa v Rogers Mtagwa and Juan Manuel Lopez v Steven Luevano undercard at the Garden. Manuel Lopez won the WBO featherweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of champion Luevano, while WBA champion Gamboa needed less than two rounds to demolish Mtagwa.
Meanwhile, World junior champion Joe Ward will be in action for the first time at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association's Open Youth Championship at the National Stadium in Dublin this Friday.
Ward, who received a bye, meets Darren Kiely in the middleweight semi-finals of the tournament which the IABA are using to help with their selection process for the AIBA World Youth Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, in April.
Thirty three quarter-finals were completed at the Open on Friday and Saturday, with Intermediate champ Sean McComb and highly rated Anthony Upton both crashing out.
Upton bowed out after he was beaten 4-1 by Paul Kelly. Stephen Broadhurst emerged victorious, an 8-0 decision over Eamon Tighe booking his ticket into the last four.
Waterford lightweight Rohan Date meanwhile, advanced for the Saviours/Crystal club with a third-round stoppage of Dublin's Keith Monks.
The AIBA World Youth Championships will act as the only qualifier for the Youth Olympics in Singapore this August.