Looming ahead, should he win the scheduled ten rounder on the “Island Warriors: Latin Fury 12” card in the Garden’s WaMu Theater is a payday against Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. next year.
However, another defeat, six months after his surprise loss to Billy Lyell, will completely shatter what remains of the number nine ranked WBO middleweight’s championship dreams.
How much pressure is Duddy feeling?
“No more than what there usually is,” the Derry Destroyer [26-1, 17 KOs] said after a workout on Sunday. “I’m ready to explode,” he added.
Reunited with trainer Harry Keitt, under whom he won 17 straight fights between 2004 and May 2007, Duddy was upbeat over his preparations for Munoz, a Kansas-based Mexican with a 21-3 [14 KOs] ledger.
“I had a couple of great workouts with James [Moore] and feel great. I’m looking forward to putting on a great show,” he said. “Munoz is a tough Mexican who comes forward with a big right hand and I think it will be an exciting fight.”
Keitt, too, played down the pressure but strongly hinted that defeat was absolutely not an option.
“I know a few people are hoping John loses, but we’re going to beat this guy by any means necessary. We’re going to bring John Duddy back,” Keitt vowed.
The trainer, who was fired by Irish Ropes, Duddy’s then handlers, in May 2007, dismissed suggestions that the fight offered both him and his charge a shot at redemption.
“We’ll be there to fight and perform,” Keitt said.
He talked of rewinding the clock to get the 30 year-old Duddy ready for what is now the most critical fight of his career.
“I had to remind him of the things we did before. He had to learn to relax, breath and enjoy [fighting] again.”
According to Keitt, Duddy was lackadaisical and tight during his early sparring sessions with amateur prospect Peter Reyes but got better in subsequent workouts.
Duddy fans can expect to see more of the prize-fighter’s left hand again, particularly the hook, which was under utilized under Keitt’s successors, Don Turner and Pat Burns.
Should he prevail against Munoz, a fighter that will spot him two inches, the 5-foot-11, Duddy will all but guarantee himself a major payday against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. the son of the Mexican legend.
Duddy advisor Craig Hamilton said that fight could happen in April 2010 but would be preceded by a Duddy match in Mexico, likely in December, to introduce the Irishman to fans there.
Still, both Keitt and Duddy refused to look ahead of Munoz.
“It means nothing to me,” said Duddy. “I’ve got a fight [this Saturday] and as far as I’m concerned it’s the most important fight of my career and I’m looking forward to it.”
“Julio doesn’t exist right now,” the trainer said. “We’ve got to worry about Michi Munoz.”
Duddy is scheduled in the ring at 8 p.m. in the last bout before the per-pay-view segment of the card begins.
The main event features Juan Manuel Lopez defending his WBO junior featherweight title against Rogers Mtagwa. In the co-feature, WBA featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa puts his crown on the line against Whyber Garcia.
Tickets are priced at $250, $150, $75 and $50, and are available at the MSG box office as well as from Greg McIntrye at (917) 528-7379, Barney Moore at (917) 559-8467 or from www.duddyboxing.com.