Duddy Defeats Vanda; MSG Undercard Report
By Michael Norby at ringside: Undefeated middleweight boxing contender John Duddy made a victorious return to the ring on Saturday night after he largely outclassed and subsequently out-pointed veteran American journeyman Matt Vanda through ten rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City, USA.
Duddy 26-0 (17) is currently at the center of a messy he said/she said dispute with former promoters Irish Ropes and before tonight had not fought since last summer. After being granted permission to fight whilst the legal wrestling continues, the Irishman wasted no time in securing chief support billing for Top Rank’s Miguel Cotto vs. Michael Jennings pay-per-view broadcast.
Hoping to secure the high profile, big dollar fight that he so clearly craves, Duddy needed to look good and, against a limited but gritty opponent, he was, for the most part, successful. Vanda 39-9 (22) presented Duddy with a perfect platform from which to display his much improved all-round boxing game – an improvement born from the tuition of the Irishman’s trainer Pat Burns.
For nine rounds he did just that. He fought in a clever fashion, never allowing himself to get pulled into a slugfest against an opponent who was looking to do just that. Duddy peeled off combinations, avoided most of what came at him and racked up a decisive lead as the fight entered the tenth and final round. That’s when Vanda went for broke and battered Duddy with a slew of ferocious head shots that had the Irishman reeling until he welcomed the final bell and survived with his unbeaten record intact.
Duddy began the fight well – landing a right hook and left hand against the jaw of Vanda in the opening seconds. The Irishman was aggressive but not wildly so and he scored frequently with two and three punch sequences whilst Vanda connected with single, thudding body shots throughout the round. Duddy found a home for a well authored three punch combination in the final twenty seconds that forced the American backwards and cemented an impressive opening for the unbeaten contender.
This was a solid version of John Duddy this evening and he continued to impress in the second as he landed straight right hands behind his jab and moved away from Vanda’s responses for much of the three minutes. The Minnesotan enjoyed a measure of success in the final minute after Duddy abandoned his jab and allowed his opponent to attack unmolested, but the Irishman took the punches well and answered back with a scoring combination as the round came to a close.
Vanda connected with a right hook to the body midway through the third round and immediately shook out his fist. The American failed to throw that punch at all throughout the remainder of the round and well into the fourth which indicated a possible injury and allowed Duddy to complete his best work of the fight – thumping home punches with both hands over the left hand of Vanda and eating only a handful of shots in return.
Indeed, the middle rounds were also fully owned by John Duddy. He landed both hands with relative ease and, more importantly, he remained calm. The old Duddy would doggedly try to take a guys head off whether or not he sensed an opportunity and that wild aggression regularly resulted in him floating in the deep stuff without a paddle. Tonight, however, he stayed patient and picked a clearly outmatched opponent apart round by round, piling up points whilst ignoring the boo-birds in the crowd (a first for Duddy) at the end of the sixth round.
Vanda was well behind on the scorecards but at least he was trying and he forced Duddy into retreat in the seventh round. Surging forward, the veteran landed a series of well placed punches into the dial of his opponent and arguably enjoyed the better of the three minutes. This was Duddy’s night, however, and he regained full control in the eighth with another well deployed three minute performance.
Duddy tried to cruise to the final stretch facing what was, seemingly, an offensively ineffective opponent that posed little threat of harm to the Irishman. The Derryman, with the fight in the bag, relaxed and that’s when Vanda exploded. The American launched forward in the tenth and final round with a furious head assault that buckled his opponent’s legs and presented a glorious opportunity for Vanda to cause a stunning upset. Duddy refused to hold on and countered back although he was clearly on the receiving end of the worst of the medicine.
Vanda just couldn’t find a way to put Duddy down, however. He gave it his all but ultimately a combination of lack of time and Duddy’s granite chin worked against the game American and resulted in a wide and deserved points decision for the unbeaten fighter.
Scores: 99-91; 99-91; 97-93
Also on the card, Polish middleweight prospect Pawel Wolak scored an impressive stoppage victory over former Contender star Norberto Bravo in the third round of a scheduled ten.
Wolak 23-1 (16) systematically broke through the leaky defense of Bravo 27-17-3 (15) with a continuous barrage of power punches that clattered against the jaw of the veteran throughout the contest. Badly weakened and showing no real signs of clawing his way back into the contest, Bravo was saved in the third round when referee Pete Santiago stopped the contest with Wolak hammering punches against his exposed chin.
Wolak began the fight energetically – forcing Bravo to the ropes throughout the round and scoring with both hands as his opponent unsuccessfully tried to counter. In the final thirty seconds, Bravo, whose durability isn’t exactly his strongest asset, found himself in dire trouble. Wolak stunned the American with a right hand upstairs before unleashing a tirade of well placed punches that a seriously jellied Bravo did well to survive.
The second round served up more of the same as Wolak pressed forward urgently and thundered combinations against the face of his already weather worn opponent. Bravo tried to respond but with his back to the ropes and flailing desperately with his fists, he made an easy target for the prospect. The distinct lack of a body attack was surely the only reason that Bravo was still upright but, as the frame came to a close, it was clear that he was hanging on by a thread.
Indeed, a round later, Wolak’s intense pressure and precision finally got the better of his weary opponent. Bravo began well and attempted to keep the action in the center of the ring but it wasn’t long before he was resting against the ropes and soaking up fierce punches with his head. Wolak surged forward midway through the round and hammered his man with both hands, stunning Bravo and leaving his head unprotected which forced Santiago to step in.
Time of stoppage: 1:33 RD3
After almost four rounds of snooze inducing middleweight action, undefeated Russian Matvey Korobov found a sweet spot with his only angry punch of the fight to grasp a last second knockout victory over New York spoiler Cory Jones.
Power-punching Korobov 4-0 (3) had a tough time corralling his opponent in the first round, prompting boos from the audience in the arena midway through the frame. He did find a formula for success in the second as he waited for Jones to surge forward recklessly before slamming single right hands against his jaw.
It wasn’t pretty but it was working and, although the crowd continued to voice their disapproval in the final two rounds, the slim pickings that Korobov was enough to win him every round. Just as the final bell was about to ring, however, the Russian landed a thunderous right hand that sent Jones sprawling to the canvas – where he remained through the referee’s count.
Time of stoppage: 2:59 RD4
Kina Malpartida 9-3 (2) w.tko.10 Maureen Shea 13-1 (7) – NABA Jr lightweight world title
Jorge Diaz 8-0 (5) w.ud.6 Lante Addy 6-4 (4) – Jr featherweights
Hector Marengo 5-0-2 (3) md.4 Angel Rodriguez 3-2-1 (2) - Lightweights
Lenroy Thomas 11-1 (7) w.ud.4 Terrell Nelson 9-8 (6) - Heavyweights