Irish Middleweight Boxer John Duddy (29-2, 18 KOs) is calling it quits despite a potential offer to fight Andy Lee (24-1, 18 KOs) on HBO March 12, 2011 for a $100,000 purse and a percentage of the gate.
The native of Derry, Ireland admitted recently that he no longer feels the passion for the sport of boxing he once had. "I wish I still had the hunger, but I don't," said Duddy. "The fire has burned out. And I know myself well enough to know that it won't return."
Irish eyes will not be smiling upon seeing their countryman's departure from the sport, especially since the bout with Lee would have surely set Duddy up for a shot at a world title. Duddy's celebrated career started with 26 straight wins between his pro debut in September of 2003 until his tough split decision loss to an 18-7 Billy Lyell in April of 2009.
Duddy's last fight was against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in June of 2010, and the unanimous decision loss featured one judge giving all 12 rounds to Chavez, who was 40-0-1 at the time. Ironically enough, the only two men to ever beat Duddy will square off at the end of this month. Lyell, now 22-8 with 4 KOs, will travel to Sinaloa, Mexico for a January 29, 2011 battle for Chavez's WBC Silver Middleweight Title.
Although there may be some fans who see Duddy's early retirement as a major disappointment, the sport of boxing can be extremely difficult, especially when the motivation is just not there to train hard enough to win. There are health concerns as well, and it's not just a coincidence that Pugilistic Dementia plays a huge part in the new FX series Lights Out.
While the first 9 fights of Duddy's career ended in wins by knockout (7 of them in the first round), Duddy's last 9 bouts have only featured one knockout win, also in the first round. Those last 8 bouts that went the distance represent 80 of Duddy's 183 rounds boxed over the course of his career. Although reports of his retirement don't reference any health concerns, these issues obviously must have some impact on his ultimate decision to bow out gracefully.
Like the main character in Lights Out, Patrick "Lights" Leary, time out of the ring and financial concerns down the road might change Duddy's mind. After all, boxing is the kind of sport in which the word "retirement" is all too often used in the way NFL Quarterback Brett Favre has thrown it around in recent years.
Still, Duddy is likely to find other work as a trainer or commentator where he will be taking less of a beating every time he shows up for work. Whether it's just a phase he's going through or a permanent hiatus from professional competition, John Duddy's storied career speaks for itself and he has nothing to be ashamed of hanging up the gloves after the battles he's been through. Whatever happens in the future, he will play a large part in the history of the sport and should maintain whatever ties he can to the Sweet Science in moving in this new direction.