Duddy hungry for Big Apple challenge

EXCITING Irish middleweight prospect John Duddy insists he will not be “star-struck” when he fights at the prestigious New York venue Madison Square Garden next month.

Unbeaten Duddy’s opponent has been confirmed as Victor Lares, a Texan with 10 wins and one defeat (three knock-outs).

The 25-year-old Derry fighter, now based in New York, will look to record his 10th knock-out win in as many professional fights when he appears on the Miguel Cotto-Muhammad Abdullaev undercard on June 11.

“Fighting at Madison Square Garden means I’ve finally done it,” Duddy said.

“I’ve dreamed about this for a long time and I’m very excited. Many of the all-time great boxers have fought over the years at Madison Square Garden.

“Maybe in a year or two, on the same stage, I’ll hopefully be fighting for the world middleweight title. What a great atmosphere, but I won’t be star-struck fighting there, having watched a few fights at Madison Square Garden.”

Duddy sent the American media into raptures with an explosive first-round stoppage of WBC number nine-rated Lenord Pierre, a fellow undefeated prospect, in March.

“I’ve fought in front of a lot of people in some amateur tournaments in eastern Europe,” Duddy said.

“But it won’t be nearly as many people as there will be on June 11 at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m very honoured to be fighting in one of the most prestigious places in boxing. Once the bell rings, though, it doesn’t matter if we’re in Madison Square Garden or any place else, I’m there to fight my opponent.”

Meanwhile, Kostya Tszyu claimed yesterday that he is far better than anyone Ricky Hatton has ever faced.

The IBF light welterweight champion arrived in England on Sunday, with his 12-strong entourage, for the June 5 clash at Manchester’s MEN Arena.

Tszyu said: “Ricky has fought some great fighters but he will find that I am another level above them.

“It is a great challenge for Ricky and he has got guts to step up and take it. I respect all my opponents.”

The Russian-Australian has held a version of the world title for

10 years and beaten superstars such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Zab Judah and Miguel Angel Gonzalez.

And the 35-year-old, who has set up camp in Bolton, believes he is in better form than ever, having recently returned from a two-year injury absence with a crushing win over Sharmba Mitchell.

Tszyu also insisted the prospect of fighting in front of 22,000 screaming Hatton fans holds no fears.

“If the fans are crazy, it will make a great night, but I am sure they understand and love boxing,” said Tszyu.

“When I fought Chavez in Phoenix in front of 15,000 Mexicans, it was so bad I never even waited for the decision.

“We are both sportsmen and the Manchester fans have a chance to show the world how good they are.”

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