Islington fighter targets sixth straight win in Germany

Joe Duffy

Joe Duffy - Credit: Philip Sharkey/TGSPHOTO

Joe Duffy is a man in a hurry – he only turned professional in February, yet he will notch up his sixth fight this weekend.

At 25, the Islington-based super-middleweight is a fairly late starter in the paid ranks – and he is keen to make up ground as quickly as possible before turning his attention to a title push next year.

Duffy, whose background is firmly rooted in MMA (mixed martial arts) had no intention of developing into a professional boxer when he moved to north London in 2012.

But then he started working with trainer John Tandy at the Boxing Clinic, Islington Green, and the switch appears to have worked – although Duffy admits it was less than straightforward.

“I came here to train in MMA, with the intention of moving to America,” the Irishman recalled. “But John saw a bit of a spark and he said ‘why don’t you give boxing a go?’ From there we drew up a plan.

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“With MMA you’ve got to train a few different ways, with the wrestling, the groundwork and so on – it’s sessions stretched throughout the day, trying to cover a lot of stuff.

“I’d been involved in all different combat sports, but I never went in for amateur boxing contests or anything. Boxing is a totally different fitness regime and the intensity is something I’ve never felt before at this level.

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“I didn’t realise how much it took to be a pro. Within the first two weeks of training with John, I wondered if it was for me, but slowly it’s coming together and I’m glad I stuck it out.

“With each camp I’m getting a bit more relaxed in the ring. I’m more confident in my defence, and I’m seeing things and setting up shots better.

“We’ve had an active year – we’ve got five fights in already and we’ll hopefully get a few more this year, with no injuries. Next year we can start looking at titles and chasing the bigger fights.”

Duffy, who grew up in Donegal, has won all five of his contests since making the decision to turn pro – two of them inside the distance – and stepped up to six rounds for his most recent fight, against Jay Morris in July.

The Islington fighter will be venturing outside the UK for the first time on Saturday when faces Romanian journeyman Ionut Trandafir Ilie in Baden-Wurttemburg.

And his seventh professional contest is already in the diary – another six-rounder closer to home at the Camden Centre, King’s Cross, at the end of the month.

“The idea behind the Germany fight is to go abroad and experience that before you step up the levels, taking a step outside your comfort zone, and I think that’ll be really good,” Duffy said.

“It’s going to be valuable experience for me. We’re just trying to build on each fight – we made a couple of tweaks after the last one, in my diet and a few other areas, although I haven’t got to worry about weight too much.

“Long-term, I’m the same as any boxer – you want a world title and all of them if you can! That’s always going to be the end goal. There’s no point in settling for anything less if you want to realise your full potential.”

Although Duffy names two great super-middleweight world champions as his role models, he is hoping to eventually forge his own reputation in the middleweight division.

And, if he progresses successfully, that could put him on a collision course with another Islington boxer – unbeaten John Ryder, who challenges Billy Joe Saunders for the British middleweight crown later this month.

“For the fights I’m making at the moment, I’m only weighing in 3lb over middleweight,” added Duffy. “With my diet, I could drop down 3lb, no problem.

“That’s another division that’s full of talent at the moment – you’ve got John Ryder and Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Eubank Jr and a lot of other up and coming fighters.

“As a kid, I grew up watching Steve Collins. He was always my favourite because he was Irish and he wasn’t the most technical, but he had the heart of a lion, so he was certainly someone I followed.

“In terms of style, there are a lot of boxers I’d like to emulate. I lived in Wales for a time and Joe Calzaghe was only 20 minutes down the road. If I could do half of what he did, that’d be incredible.”

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