Focused Duddy primed for Eastman duel

AFTER the fiasco of the aborted McCullough-Martinez fight a week earlier there were no problems at the scales in Belfast yesterday when John Duddy and Howard Eastman weighed in for tonight’s sell-out middleweight contest at The King’s Hall (RTÉ2, 9pm).

Duddy, the 28-year-old New York based Derry native with a perfect 22-0 record faces the former British, Commonwealth and European champion on a bill titled “The Only Show in Town.”

The excitement surrounding the weigh-in indicated that the affair, which also includes two Irish title fights, is aptly named.

Duddy promised a thriller and reflected on his training stint in North Carolina ahead of tonight’s clash.

“All I have been doing is eating, sleeping and talking boxing. There was nothing else to do,” said Duddy, who moved camp from New York due to the cold weather.

“I was there five weeks and I’d have swum back to Ireland.

“There was just nothing to do; one evening I was forcing myself to get off the bed at 6.30 or I would have just fallen asleep. The nearest town was 22 miles away and now I just want to get doing the business.”

Despite the intense preparations Duddy admitted Eastman is a major threat to his hopes of facing middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik.

“Eastman is a world class operator,” Duddy said. “He has fought at a much higher level than I have so I have to give him a lot of respect because I want to get to where he has been. He has had almost twice as many knockouts as I have had fights, so that tells you everything about him. He has an amazing record and he’s a very dangerous man.

“It’s going to be amazing, it just doesn’t get much better than fighting a guy with Eastman’s reputation at a venue as famous as the King’s Hall — it’s going to be an exciting night and an exciting fight. I believe that I’m improving and the work I’ve done with Don Turner has been fantastic. The King’s Hall is going to be rocking.”

Eastman celebrates his 37th birthday today and he intends to celebrate in style.

“My present to myself will be a simple one... to beat your Golden Boy,” he said.

The Battersea Bomber, has won all but five of his 47 fights with 35 inside the distance. The winner of his first 32 bouts, his first defeat came when he dropped a majority decision to William Joppy for the then vacant WBA title in Las Vegas six years ago and, after eight more wins, earned another championships shot, going the distance with the great Bernard Hopkins — for all four titles — in Los Angeles two and a half years ago.

The show will also feature two unbeaten Northerners; light-welterweight Paul McCloskey and welterweight Stephen Haughian, in IBF inter-continental title bouts, as well as a pair of vacant Irish title fights.

The two Irish title bouts will see unbeaten St Albans based Cavan light-welter Andrew Murray against James Gorman from Belfast, and an all-Belfast battle between Ciaran Healy and Leeds based Lee Murtagh at light-middleweight.

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