On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, promoter Irish Ropes put together a magnificent fight card that would that would have been enjoyed by all fight fans, Irish or not. The promotion, "Irish Express" played to a packed house in the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York with all coming to see rising middleweight contender "Irish" John Duddy in action as he met Shelby Pudwill of North Dakota. The undercard was packed full of attractions as well and went off without a hitch with the exception that Irish Middleweight Champion Matthew Macklin's bout with Chris Troupe was called off due to a misunderstanding of weight limits between the two sides.
In the first bout of the evening, Irish Ropes stablemate Martin Wright made his pro debut. matched against Joe Davis in a scheduled four round welterweight contest. When the bell sounded, Davis was actually the aggressor of the two, trapping the green Wright on the ropes. The majority of Davis' punches did not land, however, and Wright responded well, attacking his rival and catching him off guard with left hook which brought Davis down. Davis beat the count and was back on his feet, but not for long. Wright quickly unleashed a sinister four punch combination that put Davis down again, causing the referee to halt the fight at 2:48 in the first round. Martin Wright wins his debut to go to 1-0 (1) while Joe Davis drops to 1-3 (1).
Next up were middleweight prospects Peter Quillin and Willie Cruz. Quillin's nickname, "Kid Chocolate", is borrowed from the Hall of Fame Cuban fighter of the early 20th century. Quillin started off the fight at a quick pace and clearly hoped to put his opponent out early. For most of the first round "Kid Chocolate" smothered Cruz with left hooks and straight rights, all of which hobbled Cruz. It now became apparent why Quillin's last two fights did not go pass the first round. In the second, Quillin came out determined to end the fight and sneaked a left hook past Cruz's defense which landed flush and sent him down. Cruz got up at the count of eight only to be bombarded by a series of punches. Referee Benjy Esteves stopped the bout giving Quillin his third knockout in as many wins. To celebrate, "Kid Chocolate" began to throw Hershey Kisses into the crowd. Peter Quillin improves to 3-0 (3) and Willie Cruz of Brooklyn, NY falls to 3-6 (2).
Super middleweights Joe Greene and Brian Norman were the next pair to share the ring and
this match up moved along quite slowly for the first four rounds. Both fighters fought defensively, trying to time the opponent's jab and counter off it. Fortunately for the fans, the rivals began to mix it up by the end of the fifth round. Greene, a southpaw, rocked Norman with a looping overhand shot with ten seconds remaining that sent the Georgian's mouthpiece flying across the ring, but to his credit Norman did not go down.
By the sixth and final round, Greene pressed his attack on Norman, hurting him this time with a straight shot that landed perfectly, followed by a vicious attack to the body. Greene ended up landing 30 of 59 punches in the sixth round, but Norman showed tremendous fortitude and refused to go down. "Mean" Joe Greene, of Brooklyn, NY, wins a unanimous decision on the scorecards, 59-54, 59-,55 and 58-56 and improves to 9-0 (7), while Brian Norman of Decatur, GA, drops to 7-4 (2).
Heavyweight James Clancy was the first Irish fighter of the night to step through the ropes as he prepared to face Mitchell Rose. This gave the 5,000 plus Irish crowd something to really cheer for but unfortunately, it was about the only thing to cheer about in this fight. For all four rounds both lumbering heavyweights plodded around and fought at an excruciating slow pace. Although Clancy was a bit more active, there was no power in his shots and he did not put his punches together. This led to an uneventful four round decision that had Clancy winning on all three judges scorecards. 40-36 (twice) and 39-37. James Clancy, of Dorchester, MA, goes to 7-0 (1) while Mitchell Rose, of Brooklyn, NY, falls to 2-10-1 (2).
Super featherweight Maureen Shea next made her way into the ring, accompanied by bagpipes. Before she walked to her corner, Shea got on one knee and did the sign of the cross, then turned and glared at her opponent LeAnne Villareal until the bell rang. For the first three rounds, Shea threw a tremendous amount of punches both upstairs and to the body. The New Yorker threw a blazing 95 punches during the 2nd round and 86 in the fourth, all done in only two minute rounds! Despite shelling out the huge punchstat numbers, Shea could not stop her opponent or put her down. Ultimately, Maureen Shea of The Bronx ended up with a clean sweep of 40-36 on all three judge's scorecards, and improves her record to 5-0 (3). LeAnne Villareal, of Albuquerque, NM, goes to 1-6-1 (1).
For the final undercard bout, popular New York based Irish Ropes light middleweight James Moore was also led to the ring by bagpipers and the sellout crowd at the Garden erupted into applause. As it would turn out, Moore had the most impressive performance of the night. From the very start of the fight, Moore rushed out of his corner and attacked opponent Jose Felix. Moore began to physically break down his opponent with lethal right hands and slicing uppercuts that cracked Felix's head back. By the second round, Moore turned up his punching activity, knocking Felix from pillar to post and giving him no room to breath. Finally Moore unleashed a series of thunderous hooks to the body that brought his opponent down to one knee. The fighter from Georgia caught his breath and rose to both feet before the count of ten.
Moore quickly rushed in like a bull seeing red and knocked Felix down for the second time, but the Southerner would again get up and survive the round. In round three, Moore decided to end the night early and hit Felix with a tremendous left hook that would have even impressed Micky Ward, who was sitting ringside. Felix again went down which led referee Steve Smoger to halt the bout at 26 seconds into round three. James Moore improves to 5-0 (4) with his truly impressive win and with John Duddy looking to be less active in the future as his rounds and opposition's talent begin to climb, Irish Ropes will certainly look to showcase Moore, originally of Arklow, Ireland. Jose Felix, of Savannah, GA, drops to 9-3-2 (3).
Now, the main event. After the singing of the Irish and American National Anthems, Derry, Ireland's John Duddy made his way from the locker room led by standard bearers carrying the Irish and American Flags as well as a bass drum delivering a rhythmic thud and of course, bagpipes blaring away. I don't care who you are, that entrance was enough to put the hair up on the back of your neck and has to be intimidating for any opponent. Duddy seemed extremely focused as he entered the ring, fully prepared to meet the man in the far corner, Shelby Pudwill.
When the bell sounded to begin the first round, Duddy went right to work and at the blink of an eye, Pudwill was on the canvas from a flurry of punches. The North Dakota visitor beat the count, only for the Irishman to be right on top of him and to floor Pudwill for a second time with big combinations to the head and body. Pudwill arose to only be greeted again by a Duddy arsenal of flying fists coming from all angles.
Pudwill could find no cover and soon found himself back on the canvas for the third time. Referee Wayne Kelly thought there was no reason for this beating to continue and called the fight off at 1:41 of the first round. Shelby Pudwill, of Mandan, ND, drops to 21-3-1 (9) while John Duddy improves to 16-0 (14) and picks up the WBC Continental Americas title in the process.
Duddy came and did the job he was supposed to do and made short work of Pudwill. Duddy's managers, the McLoughlin Brothers, have done a good job so far in mapping out the middleweight's fights and it will be interesting to see how Duddy progresses as his career moves along. He has already sold out the Theater at the Garden in only his 16th pro fight, quite an accomplishment. And if Clan Duddy plays their cards right, they could be selling out the main Madison Square Garden by next years' St. Patrick's Day.