John Duddy won again last night, beating Charles Howe via unanimous decision (100-90 sweep on all three cards) at The Castle in Boston.
But now he says he might move from middleweight to junior middleweight. New trainer Pat Burns would prefer that Duddy drop six pounds and go down a weight class, which really doesn't seem a bad idea at all. There are positives and negatives, so let's talk about the two big ones.
Negative: Less money
154 is not the glamour division that 160 is, or at least that 160 can be. While 154 does boast new titleholder Sergio Mora as a fairly bankable fighter who earned a few legit stripes by upsetting Vernon Forrest, the rest of the division is filled with guys that are old and aren't money names (Forrest, Verno Phillips, Baldomir -- if he's still fighting anyway), guys that have never been money names and never will be (Joachim Alcine, Cory Spinks, Yuri Foreman, Sergei Dzinziruk), and young lions that would probably have a field day with Bloody Duddy (Kirkland, Julio, Angulo).
Positive: He could win there
John Duddy on his best day is not going to beat Kelly Pavlik or Arthur Abraham, and he'd have to come up with something pretty special to upend Felix Sturm, too. After the initial hype sparked by the fact that he's Irish and a fan base was easy to build, I think everyone is starting to understand that Duddy has severe limitations. Even if Pat Burns makes him a lot better, he's always going to have the instinct to drop his hands and brawl. You can't really change a fighter's stripes. You can paint over them, but when it starts storming in there, that stuff's coming off and the true persona will be revealed.
Duddy is a tough, hard-working fighter, and he's got marketability written all over him. But he's not an elite fighter. He never will be. The best case scenario for John is probably being a bigger Arturo Gatti, maybe grabbing an alphabet title here and there, always bringing excitement, and if you put him in with the best of the best, it's going to get ugly in a hurry. He's just not good enough.
I really think I like the idea to move him down and see how he does. The other real truth is, he has been stagnating at fighting gatekeepers, journeymen, and tomato can no-names at 160 since 2005. He was matched fairly aggressively and deserves credit for being 25-0, but he's 29 years old and his knockout power has dropped off substantially against more durable fighters.
He's not getting any younger, and chances are he's not going to get a whole lot better.