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Duddy hopes to get back on track

Ireland’s John Duddy breezed through his first 17 professional fights, but he has officially arrived at a crossroads in his career.
After one brutal test and two lackluster bouts, the Maspeth brawler has a new trainer. As if that wasn’t enough, he will be under the microscope, making his homeland professional debut in Ireland when the IBA middleweight champ meets IBF Mediterranean light middleweight title-holder Alessio Furlan (19-8-5, 8 KOs), of Italy, in the 10-round main event of “The Homecoming,” July 14 in Dublin’s National Stadium.
The decision to return home has been in the works for the last year, but Duddy’s promoters, Irish Ropes, did not expect it to come during a transitional period such as this.
In his last fight, a 10-round unanimous decision over journeyman Dupre Strickland, Duddy was uncharacteristically passive, rarely following up punches, and landing few combinations. Since his gory decision over Yory Boy Campas last September 29, a slugfest in which he was cut deeply over each eye, Duddy has appeared sluggish.
After the Strickland victory, his old trainer, Harry Keitt, felt there were too many people involved pulling Duddy in separate directions. The Derry, Ireland fighter seemed to lack focus at the time. Now Keitt is gone, replaced by Don Turner, who has trained 19 world champions including Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes, Aaron Pryor and Mike McCallum.
“Turner has me doing stuff I did as an amateur like throwing combinations, working on my hand speed, and pressuring correctly,” Duddy said. “I’m going to put on more pressure than I did my past few fights, more up-tempo, coming at my opponent from all angles. We’ve been working on a lot of small things from a different perspective.”
Irish Ropes hopes Turner can get Duddy (20-0, 15 KO’s), rated No. 6 in the WBO, as well as No. 9, 10 and 11 by the WBA, IBF and WBC, respectively, back on track, to where he was before the Campas fight. Turner seems to think there is not a lot of work to be done.
“John Duddy has what it takes to go all the way to the top,” Turner said. “I look at how much guts a fighter has to win — that they’re not afraid — because boxing is 90-percent mental. Duddy has that. This guy gets hit and it is my job to teach him not to get hit. He is just as good as anybody in the middleweight division. All he needs to do is throw combinations; it’s the missing link.”
The unbeaten middleweight sensation has often talked longingly of returning home. Before training in the Poconos, he spent two weeks in Ireland promoting this fight.
“It was great being home,” he said. “I had something to do every day, meeting people in their houses, attending functions and working out at my old gym. I could not believe the reception I received. My phone kept ringing. It’s a small town and everybody knows everybody.”

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