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24 APRIL 2014

 




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The Truth about John Duddy


John Duddy: photo by Holger Keifel
John Duddy: photo by Holger Keifel

By Thomas Hauser

A fighter sacrifices. He tortures his body; he hardens his mind. And all the while, he’s surrounded by people, some of whom give him their heart and soul while others view him as prey. Depending on those associations, the business of boxing can be profitable for a fighter or worse than any physical beating that he suffers.

John Duddy is learning that hard lesson now.

Duddy is the most prominent Irish boxer in the world today. He’s articulate, handsome, charismatic, and 25-and-0 with 17 knockouts. The WBC lists him as the No.3 ranked junior-middleweight in the world. The WBO and IBF place him second and sixth respectively at 160 pounds.

Most of Duddy’s fights have been in New York. He has been the headline attraction at Madison Square Garden three times and in the featured undercard bout in the big arena on two occasions. “That means a great deal to me,” he says. “There are a lot of fighters out there who are as good as me, but no one has better fans. For a guy from Derry to headline at Madison Square Garden is something special. New York has been very good to me. It’s my home for boxing. But at the end of the day, Ireland will always be my home.”

Throughout his professional career, Duddy has been guided by two brothers; Eddie and Tony McLoughlin. They used ten different promoters for his first fifteen fights. On the night before St. Patrick’s Day 2006, John knocked out Shelby Pudwill in the first round at Madison Square Garden. “Duddy-mania” was in full bloom, and “Clan Duddy” was thought of as one of boxing’s “feel good” stories.

Then a bad seed was planted. On April 24, 2006, John signed an exclusive promotional contract with Irish Ropes (a company founded and controlled by Eddie McLoughlin). One day later, he entered into a three-year managerial contract with Tony McLoughlin pursuant to which Tony was to receive twenty percent of John’s purses off the top.

It was not in John’s best interests to sign those contracts. At that point in his career, many promoters would have given him a substantial signing bonus (which Irish Ropes didn’t). Moreover, on many of Duddy’s future fights, Irish Ropes wouldn’t even perform the nuts-and-bolts promotional work. Rather, they provided John’s services to another promoter and took a share of what would otherwise have been a larger purse for John.

And most significantly, Eddie and Tony McLoughlin are brothers with a close personal relationship.

Promoters and managers are in an adversarial position when it comes to negotiating a fighter’s purse. The manager’s job is to get as much money as he can for his fighter. The promoter tries to give the fighter as little money as possible because, that way, he keeps more for himself.

Dan Birmingham (who knows quite a bit about the business of boxing) has observed, “You have to keep promoters on the end of your jab and watch them on everything.”

Tony McLoughlin was less likely to scrutinize, threaten, cajole, and battle with his brother on John’s behalf than a fully independent manager would have been.

After the promotional and managerial contracts were signed, Duddy continued his winning ways and his “star power” kept growing. The one concern his team had (and it was a big one) was that he wasn’t improving as a fighter as much as they would have liked.

Thus, in June 2007, Harry Keitt (who’d trained John from his fourth through his twentieth pro fights) was replaced by Don Turner. Four fights after that, Turner was replaced by Pat Burns.

On June 28, 2008 fighting under Burns’s tutelage for the first time, Duddy won all ten rounds on all three judges’ scorecards, against Charles Howe. Afterward, Burns declared, “I put a lot more emphasis on the jab because, the last few fights I saw on tape, John was brawling. He threw a hell of a lot more jabs in this fight than I’ve ever seen before. I also talked to John about not listening to the crowd. You can’t allow the crowd to fight for you. John did a lot of growing-up tonight. He’s got a long way to go, but I’m happy with his performance.”

Then Burns made a suggestion that opened a whole new range of possibilities. Duddy had fought as a middleweight for most of his pro career. But very little “drying out” had been necessary to make weight, and the top middleweights are naturally bigger than John. Why not go down to 154 pounds? That way, Duddy would be facing lighter punchers and his own blows would have greater effect.

John concurred. Soon after, opportunity knocked.

On March 27, 2008, Verno Phillips had beaten the odds and won a split-decision over Cory Spinks to capture the IBF 154-pound crown. That left Artie Pelullo (Phillips’s promoter) with a champion and a problem. The problem was that Verno, despite his belt, wasn’t marketable. And most of the opponents who could sell tickets would be overwhelmingly favored to beat him.

As far as Pelullo was concerned, Duddy was the perfect opponent for his fighter. Phillips-Duddy was a fight for good money that Verno could win.

From John’s point of view, the match-up was just as good. Verno was a legitimate world champion who’d won his title honestly in the ring, not by alphabet-soup fiat. But he was a vulnerable champion approaching his thirty-ninth birthday, who’d been beaten on ten occasions and scored only one knockout in the preceding four years. The icing on the cake was that Phillips was willing to defend his title against Duddy in Ireland.

“It’s hard to put into words how badly I wanted that fight,” John recalls. “I told Eddie, ‘Whatever it takes, make the deal.’ Eddie said to me, ‘Well, it’s not enough money and Pelullo wants options.’ I said, ‘I don’t care; make the deal.’”

The deal never got done. Eddie McLoughlin and Irish Ropes matchmaker Jim Borzell say that’s because Pelullo refused to give them a dollar number and wanted options on John’s future fights. Pelullo says that he offered Irish Ropes a guarantee of US$150,000 against fifty percent of the net receipts to make Phillips-Duddy and asked for nothing more than a shared option with Irish Ropes on John’s next two fights should Duddy beat Phillips.

Whatever the reason, Eddie McLoughlin didn’t seem anxious to make Phillips-Duddy. Pelullo offered to come to New York on two hours notice, anytime day or night, to close the deal. McLoughlin declined to have that meeting. Then Borzell started making calls to members of the media, putting a damper on the notion that the fight might happen.

Phillips-Duddy died. Thereafter, the McLoughlins told John that they’d arranged for him to fight Sam Hill at Roseland Ballroom on November 21st for a purse of $20,000 and Ronald Hearns at Madison Square Garden on January 17, 2009, for a purse of $75,000.

“That made no sense to me,” John remembers. “I was getting less for both of those fights together than I would have gotten for Phillips. Also, I later learned that, when Eddie and Tony made the Hearns fight, they’d agreed to everything that they said was wrong with the Phillips fight, including options. And neither fight was for a world title. It showed me how little control I had over my own destiny with Eddie and Tony, and I began to question other things.”

In October 2008, Duddy telephoned Craig Hamilton and asked for advice. Hamilton had carved out a reputation in boxing circles as a key player in guiding Michael Grant to a US$3,500,000 payday against Lennox Lewis and seven-figure purses for fights against Lou Savarese and Andrew Golota.

On November 5th, Duddy met with Hamilton and Gary Friedman (who John retained as his attorney). Thereafter, Hamilton and Friedman made some inquiries into the finances surrounding Duddy’s fights. Some of the numbers they found were troubling.

Duddy’s contract with Irish Ropes specified certain minimum purses that John was to receive during the term of the contract (a $20,000 minimum for fights in the first year; $50,000 for fights in the second year; and $75,000 for fights in the third). Those contractual requirements had sometimes been ignored. For example, for the Charles Howe fight in year three of the contract, Duddy should have received at least $75,000 but was paid only $20,000.

Details regarding Duddy’s three fights in Ireland (against Alessio Furlan, Prince Arron, and Howard Eastman) in 2007 were sketchy. John told Hamilton that he’d been paid $60,000 (less Tony McLoughlin’s twenty-percent managerial fee and certain training expenses) for the Eastman fight. That struck Craig as lower than it should have been, given the risks that Eastman posed and the revenue that Duddy had generated in the past against lesser opponents.

Further with regard to the Eastman fight, New York promoter Bob Duffy (who’d worked with the McLoughlins before) recounted, “Brian Peters promoted John’s first two fights in Ireland with Irish Ropes looking on. Then Irish Ropes got licensed to promote over there, and I put together a business plan that showed they could make a $250,000 to $300,000 profit if they promoted Duddy-Eastman themselves in Belfast. I asked Eddie for $12,000 to help run the show. Then Eddie told me that he didn’t need me and sold promotional rights for the fight to Brian Peters. I have no idea what Irish Ropes got for providing John’s services. But if you think you can make $250,000 to $300,000 for promoting a fight, you’ll sell those services for a lot more than $60,000.”

Hamilton and Friedman also looked at the finances surrounding Duddy’s three most recent fights at Madison Square Garden.

On September 29, 2006, John fought Yory Boy Campas in The Theatre at The Garden. New York State Athletic Commission records show a total attendance of 3,352. Irish Ropes reported that only 2,593 of that was “paid,” which means that there were 759 comps. The number of comps seems high. The “gross receipts of ticket sales” reported by Irish Ropes was $264,800. In addition, it reported $25,000 from the sale of television rights. Duddy’s purse was $20,000.

Six months later, on St. Patrick’s Day Eve 2007, John fought at The Theatre again; this time against Anthony Bonsante. NYSAC records show a total attendance of 4,955. Irish Ropes reported that 4,471 of that was “paid.” The “gross receipts of ticket sales” reported by Irish Ropes to the commission was $558,505. In other words, the gross receipts from the sale of tickets for Duddy-Bonsante exceeded the total for Duddy-Campas by $293,705. Yet Duddy received only $20,000 more (a $40,000 purse from which training expenses and Tony McLoughlin’s twenty percent managerial fee were deducted). Hamilton calculated that, most likely, Irish Ropes turned a profit of at least $200,000 on Duddy-Bonsante.

Then, on February 23, 2008, John fought Walid Smichet on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko vs. Sultan Ibragimov in the main arena at Madison Square Garden. Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing (who contracted with Irish Ropes for Duddy’s services) says that Irish Ropes received $60,000 plus $200,000 worth of tickets that were reported to the New York State Athletic Commission as having been sold for $190,000 (the other $10,000 in tickets was returned to the promotion). In addition, Irish Ropes was given ten $60 comp tickets and seventy-five $100 comp tickets. Irish Ropes paid $20,000 for Smichet’s services out its revenue stream.

Under Duddy’s promotional contract with Irish Ropes, if a fight went to purse bid, John was to receive eighty percent of the purse with Irish Ropes getting the other twenty percent. That would have been a fair guideline for the division of revenue from Duddy-Smichet (where K2 Promotions and Warriors Boxing did most of the promotional work). An 80-20 split would have given Duddy approximately $200,000. Instead, he was paid $60,000 minus the usual deductions.

Duddy told Hamilton and Friedman that he’d never been shown a record of the income received by Irish Ropes with regard to any of the cards that he’d fought on. Apparently, other information had also been withheld from him. Promoter Lou DiBella told Hamilton that, before Jermain Taylor fought Kelly Pavlik, DiBella Entertainment had offered Irish Ropes US$1,700,000 to provide Duddy’s services for a fight against Taylor. That offer, according to DiBella, was turned down. Duddy said that neither Eddie or Tony McLoughlin had mentioned it to him.

“I guess if you’re selling $190,000 worth of tickets on the side,” Hamilton observed, “you might not be anxious for your fighter to fight for a world championship under circumstances where the fighter knows how much money is on the table and insists on getting more than you want to give him. So instead, you make deals like the Smichet fight, where John trains, John fights, John gets his eyelids ripped open, Irish Ropes takes in $250,000, and John gets $60,000; but of course, John has to pay $12,000 of that $60,000 to Tony.”

The thing that put matters in perspective best for Hamilton was something that Duddy said as they were going over the numbers together. “If I’d gotten my fair share of that money,” John noted, “Grainne [his fiancée] and I would be married now.”

On November 6th, at Gary Friedman’s request, Hamilton and Friedman met with Eddie and Tony McLoughlin and Jim Borzell at the offices of Irish Ropes. The McLoughlins said that, far from exploiting John, they had both incurred losses as a consequence of various extras that they’d given him during the course of their association. Friedman responded that he considered the promotional and managerial contracts void because of various breaches but that, as part of a settlement, John would reimburse the McLoughlins out of future purses for any out-of-pocket losses that they’d suffered. Eddie and Tony said that they’d think about the situation and get back to Friedman with a number.

Two matters (the Sam Hill and Ronald Hearns fights) required immediate attention.

As previously noted, the McLoughlins had arranged for Duddy to fight Sam Hill at Roseland Ballroom on November 21st for a purse of $20,000. The promoter of that fight was Cedric Kushner’s Gotham Boxing. It was a small-money bout that made little sense, given the fact that a loss (or even a cut) could jeopardize much bigger pay-days in the near future.

With Eddie McLoughlin’s permission, Hamilton spoke with Kushner on November 9th and learned that Gotham Boxing had agreed to give Irish Ropes $35,000 worth of tickets for Duddy-Hill plus a twenty percent commission on all ticket sales over $50,000. Kushner offered to modify the deal so that Duddy would receive $30,000 plus $25,000 in tickets. The promoter would also pay airfare, hotel, and a per diem food allowance for John and Pat Burns.

Duddy wanted to go through with the fight. “I’ve always lived up to my contracts,” he said. “And I need the goal of having a fight in front of me. Right now, I’m in limbo. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. The only thing that keeps me straight is that I know I have a fight.”

Hamilton advised Kushner accordingly.

The second fight on the table was the proposed January 17th match-up against Ronald Hearns in The Theatre at Madison Square Garden. That fight was to be promoted by Lou DiBella and televised by HBO on Boxing After Dark.

The McLoughlins had told Duddy that he’d be paid $75,000 for the Hearns fight. Hamilton learned that Irish Ropes had a deal with DiBella that would give them one hundred percent of the Irish television money plus a percentage of all other fight revenue after the deduction of expenses. DiBella estimated that Irish Ropes would receive $300,000 for delivering John’s services.

Duddy had never signed a contract for the Hearns fight. Hamilton felt that the McLoughlins had undervalued their fighter in negotiations with DiBella. He also thought that, using Lou’s numbers, $75,000 was an absurdly low purse.

“If Irish Ropes takes in $300,000,” Hamilton asked rhetorically, “why does John get $75,000 minus Tony McLoughlin’s twenty percent? And I see that, if Ronald Hearns beats Duddy, Irish Ropes gets a piece of Hearns. I understand why that might be in Eddie McLoughlin’s interest, but how is that in John’s interest?”

Then things got ugly. The McLoughlins didn’t respond to Gary Friedman’s settlement offer. Instead, on November 10th, Tony McLoughlin announced to the media that John wouldn’t be fighting Sam Hill for "unforeseen" reasons and advised fans who’d bought tickets to go to the point of purchase for a full refund. That same day, Kushner called Hamilton and told him that, given Tony’s statement, the entire fight card was off.

“It’s frustrating for me,” Duddy said on hearing the news. “I’ve been out of the ring for so long. I’d had a good six-week training camp. I was ready to go. And then, without any warning at all, without ever telling me, Tony cancelled the fight.”

Hamilton went further, saying, “Tony McLaughlin did here what has been a pattern of behavior throughout his relationship with John. He treated John like a child instead of the intelligent person that he is and went ahead and did something without consulting the fighter. This occurred with Jermain Taylor; it occurred with Verno Phillips; and now it’s happening with Sam Hill. There was no discussion; just cancel the fight. Tony McLoughlin just cost John fifty thousand dollars.”

Duddy-Hearns fell apart soon after. Meanwhile, Eddie McLoughlin decided to go public with the dispute and told the media, “I think John was reading his own press clippings. I know that he has people speaking in his ear, telling him that he should be bigger and fighting for more money and that kind of thing. What kills me is all the big things that we had in store for him next year. If he had looked good against Hearns on HBO, it would have probably led to a title shot. But it’s not about the money. I’m disappointed that John hasn’t even called me to talk about what’s bothering him. Because I can tell you that, if he had called, we would have met and worked this out. I’m disappointed that he didn’t face me like a man and tell me he was unhappy.”

Jim Borzell took things to another level. First, he denigrated Duddy’s talent as a fighter (“Considering that John never fought anyone in the top twenty and how high he was rated, I think I did a pretty good job of matchmaking”). Then he questioned Duddy’s judgment (“We’re all scratching our heads, wondering why he’s doing this. This is the worst possible time to pull this nonsense. It’s counter-productive to his career. Now he’s going to be caught up in litigation, and HBO and Showtime aren’t going to want to touch him”). Finally, he attacked John’s character (“As far as we were concerned, we were constructing a press personality as much as a fighter. John has an arrogance and nastiness about him that the press and the public never saw.”)

In response to those comments, Craig Hamilton declared, “John has more integrity in his little finger than the McLoughlins and Jim Borzell have in their entire bodies put together.”

Pat Burns observed, “I’ve known John for about a year. He’s a fine a young man and a person of integrity. Eddie McLoughlin has a lot of charm. He’s a guy who, when you start talking to him, the first impression is good. But first impressions can be deceiving. Whether or not Eddie and Tony and Jim Borzell did right by John is in the numbers. And right now, the numbers I’m hearing don’t sound good.”

Hamilton and Burns have a vested interest in standing by Duddy. They’re his current boxing adviser and trainer. Thus, the thoughts of John’s previous two trainers (each of whom was unceremoniously dismissed) are significant.

“John is a good person,” says Don Turner. “Outside the ring, there was nothing he ever did other than what I asked of him. As a person, he’s one of the better guys that I’ve trained, and I’ve trained some great guys.”

Harry Keitt has a similar view. “I like John,” Keitt says. “I wish everyone in boxing had John’s character.” Then Keitt adds, “I believe the same thing John does about the money. I’d ask, ‘Eddie, where is all the money going?’ He’d say expenses this and expenses that. But he would never sit down with me and show me the documented numbers. As John’s trainer, the only pay I got was as a percentage of John’s purses. So if John got less than he should have gotten, then I got less too. The fans were there to see John; not the McLoughlins. What Eddie and Tony had going with John was the same sort of thing that Don King and Carl King had with fighters. And we all know how that worked out.”

The past two months have seen a thicket of legal proceedings involving Duddy and the McLoughlins.

Cedric Kushner and Duddy both filed complaints with the New York State Athletic Commission against Irish Ropes and Tony McLoughlin. After a preliminary fact-finding hearing, the commission issued complaints of its own charging that Irish Ropes and Tony McLoughlin violated state law and engaged in acts “detrimental to boxing.” The commission further alleged that Tony McLoughlin “breached the fiduciary duties” he owed to Duddy.

A hearing on the commission complaints is scheduled for February 26th. In each instance, the NYSAC is asking the hearing officer to revoke or suspend the respondent’s license and impose “the maximum monetary penalties permitted by law.” In the case of Tony McLoughlin, the NYSAC is also asking that the boxer-manager contract be voided.

NYSAC chairwoman Melvina Lathan says, “Irish Ropes cannot promote a fight in New York until this is resolved, and Tony McLoughlin cannot act as a manager in New York until this is resolved.”

In addition, Duddy has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Irish Ropes, Eddie McLoughlin, and Tony McLoughlin. The lawsuit alleges that:

(1) Irish Ropes breached its promotional obligations by failing to pay Duddy his contractual minimums for fights such as his June 28, 2008, bout against Charles Howe.

(2) Irish Ropes violated the financial disclosure provisions of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which states, “A promoter shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a boxing match until it provides to the boxer it promotes the amounts of any compensation or consideration that the promoter has contracted to receive from such match.” (This is significant because the failure of Irish Ropes to give the required financial information to Duddy left John unable to properly evaluate his worth with regard to each fight going forward.)

(3) Tony McLoughlin breached the fiduciary duty that he owed to Duddy. Here, the complaint states, “Among the obligations that Tony McLoughlin assumed when he became Duddy’s manager was the obligation to negotiate against his brother Eddie on Duddy’s behalf and, if necessary, to fire his brother in the event Eddie proved unable to live up to the letter of his contractual obligations. Defendant Tony McLoughlin breached his fiduciary obligations to Duddy in numerous respects, including (a) allowing and helping his brother Eddie to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars of bout tickets without accounting to Duddy; (b) cooperating with his brother Eddie to arrange to pay Duddy bout purses significantly below the minimums stipulated in the promotional agreement; and (c) unilaterally canceling the Sam Hill bout without consulting Duddy.”

(4) Tony McLoughlin’s relationship with Eddie was such that it violated the “firewall” provision of the Ali Act, which states, “It shall be unlawful for a manager to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the promotion of a boxer or to be employed by or receive compensation or other benefits from a promoter.” Among the items that the complaint references in this regard are “cash sales of bout tickets in bars and other establishments outside of the normal box-office channel to Duddy’s fans in the Irish-American community.” The complaint alleges, “These cash ticket sales were a principal source of revenue for the McLoughlins and Irish Ropes.”

Duddy’s complaint in the federal lawsuit seeks monetary damages from all three defendants and a judgment that the promotional agreement has been materially breached by Irish Ropes and is thus void and unenforceable. For the time being, the voidance of the boxer-manager contract between Duddy and Tony McLoughlin has been left to the New York State Athletic Commission (as per the requirements of a clause in that contract).

Here it should be noted that federal law also states, “Any person who knowingly violates [the disclosure provisions of the Ali Act] shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than US$100,000.” However, regardless of the findings in the civil case, criminal prosecution is highly unlikely.

Irish Ropes and Eddie McLoughlin are currently represented by Walter Kane, although Kane has yet to file a notice of appearance as their attorney in the federal proceeding. Tony McLoughlin is represented by Edward Hayes.

In discussing the case, Kane sounds very much like a man who would rather be representing the other side. Walter is a union guy who has stood up for boxers in the past and was one of the co-founders of JAB (the Joint Association of Boxers).

“How do you feel,” Kane is asked, “about one brother managing a fighter while the other brother promotes him?”

“I believe it can be troublesome in some situations,” Walter answers.

“Is this one of those situations?”

“I can’t speculate.”

Much of the McLoughlins’ defense against Duddy’s complaint centers on “extras” that they say they gave John beyond the terms of his contract. More specifically, they point to the fact that they provided him with the use of an apartment and car and gave him cash from time to time.

The apartment was on the ground floor of a two-story row house in Queens (one of New York’s five boroughs). Tony was the owner and used the basement as his office. Another tenant lived on the second floor.

The car was a 1998 Dodge that Tony bought second-hand from a garage. Duddy paid for the insurance and upkeep. It was given to John well before the promotional and managerial contracts were signed.

Duddy says that there were times when Tony gave him $250 a week, but adds that the payments were hit and miss (“Originally, he told me they’d be every week, but they weren’t”).

Hamilton puts the “extras” in perspective when he says, “Even if the not-so-weekly payments and the value of the car and apartment rental are recoverable, which they probably aren’t, their total value is less than what Eddie and Tony made on the Smichet fight alone. John owes them zero. And I have a feeling that what we’ve learned so far about the McLoughlins and their financial dealings with John is only the tip of the iceberg.”

As word of Duddy’s rift with the McLoughlins spread, Hamilton was contacted by Top Rank, Golden Boy, DiBella Entertainment, Main Events, Star Boxing, Gary Shaw Promotions, and (as Craig puts it) “just about every other promoter with a pulse.”

Meanwhile, the McLoughlins seemed to be pursuing a strategy of putting John on ice and keeping him from entering the ring. In that regard, they were inadvertently aided by the New York State Athletic Commission, which has moved slowly and failed so far to exercise the full range of remedies at its command

Also, as a legal matter, the NYSAC’s complaint against Irish Ropes appears to be technically flawed. At a minimum, the commission would be wise to expand it to specifically include the promoter’s apparent violations of the Ali Act and failure to pay Duddy the minimum purses required by contract.

One of the NYSAC commissioners (Edwin Torres) is a former New York State Supreme Court judge. One would think that he has the skills to offer guidance in this matter.

For a while, the slow commission pace played havoc with several potential fight cards in New York. Promoters Lou DiBella, Cedric Kushner, and Bob Duffy had put holds on venues in Manhattan for shows to be held in proximity to St. Patrick’s Day. Each of them was waiting to see if Duddy would be available to fight on their card.

Irish Ropes put a hold on The Theatre at Madison Square Garden for March 14th, but was denied the right to hold a fight on that date by the NYSAC. Thereafter, David Mossberg (an attorney for the commission) revealed that Irish Ropes’s promotional license had expired and its request for a renewal had been denied because of “a deficiency in the application.”

On January 13th, Gary Friedman filed a motion on Duddy’s behalf in federal court. The motion asked Judge Barbara Jones to grant an injunction prohibiting Irish Ropes from taking any action to interfere with Duddy’s participation in any professional boxing match during the pendency of the litigation. To protect Irish Ropes’s rights, Friedman offered to put a percentage of John’s compensation in escrow pending final resolution of the court action.

Faced with a firm court date, Eddie McLoughlin agreed on January 16th that Duddy could fight anywhere anytime as long as a portion of the profits from his future fights was put in escrow.

“That’s fine with us,” Hamilton says. “There’s no way that John will lose the court case. As far as I’m concerned, the escrow account is a savings account for John. The important thing is that now he can fight. As for Tony, once the New York State Athletic Commission gets through with him, we’ll finish off what’s left in federal court.”

Then, on a pensive note, Hamilton adds. “You know; when I heard that Tony was managing John and Eddie was promoting him, I figured John was getting screwed. That’s usually the way those things work. This is a classic case of a promoter and manager working together for their own benefit to the detriment of the fighter. The McLoughlins can promote and manage for the next twenty years. John has only a few years left. Verno Phillips lost his title, so that opportunity is gone for John. Who knows what will come next. The biggest problem with the business of boxing is that bad behavior is rewarded. I’d like to think that, this time, things will be different and everything will work out well for John.”

Duddy hopes for a similar resolution. He has learned a hard lesson; to wit, nothing prepares a fighter for the business of boxing except the business of boxing. And he has maintained his dignity through it all.

“Other people have told me about some of the attacks that have been made on me,” John says. “It’s unnecessary and very petty. There should be a common purpose between a boxer and his manager, and it seems as though that wasn’t the case between Tony and myself. The common purpose appears to have been more between Eddie and Tony. This has taught me that, as a fighter, even if you have people you think you can trust, you have to get involved in the financial end of things. Even if you rely on someone else to make certain decisions, you have to see the whole picture and know what they’re doing. I’m disappointed with what happened, but I’m lucky to have found out now rather than later. What’s done is done. I just want to move on.”

“I’ve tried to put the time I’ve been out of the ring to good use,” Duddy continues. “Not being able to fight has been difficult for me. I’m going to be thirty this year. These are my prime years as a boxer, and I know I can’t fight forever. But I’ve stayed in shape and I’ve enjoyed being home. Grainne and I don’t have a house anymore. We have a home. We just had our first Christmas in our own home. It’s ten doors down from her mother and father, so Sunday dinner is easy to handle. Lately, Grainne has had me painting and wallpapering, which means I’ve been busy in and out of the gym. But it’s not the same as fighting. Whoever I fight next, I feel sorry for him. I’m ready to explode.”


Thomas Hauser can be reached by e-mail at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (“The Boxing Scene”) was published earlier this year by Temple University Press.

Thomas Hauser’s next article will appear on the members only site of maxboxing.com


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