Ring of Fire: John Duddy Retires, Kimbo Slice Won't Box, Oscar Backs Floyd, and More

John Duddy Passes on Andy Lee, Decides to Retire

Though he says he was offered over $100,000 to fight Andy Lee on the March 12 HBO undercard of Sergio Martinez-Sergiy Dzinziruk, John Duddy has decided to instead retire from boxing. Whether the retirement sticks is anyone's guess, but I think there might be something to this, and I think it might just be the real deal.

Duddy released a statement that said, "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 twenty 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."

Duddy turned 31 last June, seven days before losing a decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in San Antonio. Over his professional career, he amassed quite a following, as strong Irish fighters generally do, and became one of the most reliable action stars in the sport for a period of time. As he was building himself up as a challenger in the middleweight division, though, critics pointed out that there were serious flaws in his style, namely that he lacked defense to a troubling degree, and often led with his face, as the cliche goes. Wins over Howard Eastman and Walid Smichet were debated and questioned, and in April 2009 he suffered a shocking upset loss to Billy Lyell, a mediocre midwestern fighter with little power, a guy Duddy was supposed to roll through as he had done others.

The loss came after Duddy had tried to change his style some with new trainer Pat Burns. In his fight prior to the loss to Lyell, Duddy wasn't his usual all-action self in a win over Matt Vanda, though in the 10th and final round of a comfortable decision win, Duddy and Vanda did bang it out a bit. After Lyell, Duddy ran off three wins over Michi Munoz, Juan Astorga and Michael "Murder Man" Medina, the latter of those fights showcased on the Pacquiao-Clottey pay-per-view, and hardly an inspiring performance.

The loss to Chavez was pretty clear, and it seemed during that fight, to me at least, that Duddy just wasn't the same guy he was during his rise to prominence as a would-be contender. In his last batch of fights, he seemed to lack the hunger and desire that saw him through many tough battles. Maybe one of the problems was that Duddy had had tough battles with what weren't exactly the cream of the sport's crop, and he had seen the writing on the wall as far as his limitations went.

At one point, Duddy was under serious consideration to fight then-middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, after Pavlik had dethroned Jermain Taylor and dispatched of Taylor in a rematch. That fight never came off, and neither did the all-Irish battle between Duddy and Andy Lee, which at one time seemed like a future money match in the division. The timing of the fight this year would have been more a crossroads bout. Lee, still coming back from his first loss in 2008, would have been in line to get arguably his best pro win. Duddy, on the other hand, would have been in line to get back into contention. There seemed to be the intention of matching Martinez with Lee should both win, and perhaps a spirited Duddy victory really would have landed him a shot at the middleweight championship.

But it's not to be. Duddy retires with a career record of 29-2 with 18 knockouts, and while I guess in some respects you could see him as a fighter who failed to live up to his potential, I choose to see him as a guy who probably maximized the natural ability he did have, got close, and just didn't quite get all the way there. And if this is a decision that sticks, he also appears to be a pragmatist.

Oscar Says Floyd Will Beat Manny

Since both guys beat Oscar, he had to pick someone, and he's sticking with Money Mayweather, perhaps in a PR-related attempt designed to lure the cash cow back into the warm embrace of Golden Boy Promotions, after word that Mayweather wasn't happy with their negotiating skills during the last go-'round of "Hey, you guys should fight each other" for Manny and Floyd.

"Believe me I'm also frustrated because I feel, with Golden Boy promoting it, each fighter can make huge money and it will be great fight."

Note: Whenever Oscar de la Hoya starts a statement with "believe me," assume the opposite of what he says is true.

Shocker! Kimbo Slice Won't Box!

In a turn of events that nobody could have seen coming, 36-year-old Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson won't be trying his hand at professional boxing, despite the dollar signs in promoter Gary Shaw's eyes, which are probably even more misplaced than the dollar signs the Shaws had in their eyes with Kimbo and EliteXC. Instead, Kimbo will head to Japan to try his hand at professional wrestling, which is fair enough. Japanese wrestling fans love their spectacles, and Slice is something of a spectacle if nothing else. Slice will be matched with ex-sumo Shinichi "Wakakirin" Suzukawa on February 5 in Fukuoka for Inoki Genome Federation, headed by Antonio Inoki, who boxing trivia buffs or Ali fans might know as the man who fought Muhammad Ali in that painfully awful boxer vs. wrestler bout in 1976, which resulted in Ali landing a few punches and Inoki damaging Ali's legs with kicks from his back. Mostly I just hope this puts to rest the absolutely ridiculous idea that a half-trained, 36-year-old guy with bad knees could come in and do anything notable in boxing, at least just by eliminating boxing as a possibility.

Odds and Ends

Sergio Martinez gave up the WBC middleweight belt, making Sebastian Zbik the full "champion" of the sanctioning body. Those who have seen Zbik fight but have not stopped calling everyone who holds one of these political trinkets "champion" may be inclined to change their tunes.

Bob Arum and Don King are of course promoting the Cotto-Mayorga fight on March 12, which is the first time in five years that the long-time bitter rivals but always willing business partners (when there's money to be made) have co-promoted. King told FanHouse that it's "going to be a lot of fun," and Arum says King is already talking about matching Mayorga with Manny Pacquiao in November.

UK junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gavin (8-0, 7 KO) is looking for a shot at the British title.

The Fighter did pretty well at the Golden Globes, all things considered, scoring wins for Melissa Leo (Best Supporting Actress) and Christian Bale (Best Supporting Actor). The film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Actor - Drama (Mark Wahlberg), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), and Best Director (David O. Russell).

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