If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough - If you get knocked down you gotta get back up. Those are the opening lines of a Roger Alan Wade song chosen by London-based middleweight prospect Joseph Duffy (6-0) as his ring walk music on Saturday night in Germany where he won a unanimous decision over durable Romanian Ionut Trandafir Ilie (14-19-1).
Duffy was floored with a big right hook in the first round and as the song goes, he did indeed get back up. The young Irishman got to his feet quickly and put in a performance of maturity and composure to regain control of the fight from that point onward.
"I think getting knocked down helped get me fired up" said Duffy after the fight. Trainer Adam Brearley was quick to add that such a move would not be incorporated in any future game plans.
Duffy started well working behind a sharp jab, changing angles and digging in hard body shots in at every opportunity. He took the fight to 28-year old Ille who seemed to be working out his strategy as he went along. The Romanian was short on activity for most of the first round but he did manage to cover up well and absorb everything that Duffy had to offer.
Things were going well for Duffy right up until the end of the first round. Against the run of play Ille stepped into range, fired off a short left and then a devastating right which landed flush and put Duffy on the canvas. Once the referee was happy for Duffy to fight on, Ille rushed in to try to finish off his dazed opponent. Duffy managed to avoid any big hits and showed experience beyond his 5-fight professional career to see out the round and grab an essential 60 second respite.
Duffy was out rapidly of the blocks to get stuck back in again in round two and put the double jab into effect whilst staying elusive. There were no signs of slowness or caution after the earlier knockdown as he offloaded a good variety of shots but was now skulking out range and making Ille miss.
Frustration was creeping in for Ille in round three as he failed to find any opening in Duffy's armour. Duffy continued to drive in some big shots to the body which clearly hurt the Romanian and prompt a knowing smile, powerless to offer anything in return. It was a clear round in the bank for Duffy who was now back on equal terms.
The start of round four was delayed because of a skirmish at ringside but the quarrels were swiftly stifled. The announcer confidently called for a return to "action, but only in the ring".
Ille's corner made the judges job a whole lot easier by drenching their fighter in water during the break between rounds three and four. Duffy got back down to business and the spray of water leaving Ille's head after each successful punch was clear indication that Duffy was now comfortably in control of this fight. There was a little more resistance from Ille but Duffy landed more punches and was dominating the contest as he moved clearly ahead on the scorecard.
The pace slowed a fraction in round five. It was clear Ille had run his batteries down and so the clinching began. Duffy was warned by the referee for hitting on the back whilst being held but did enough to take the round and had only to remain on his feet for three more minutes.
Of the two boxers, it was Ille that looked as though he'd already emptied the tank whilst Duffy looked as fresh as he did at the start of the first round. More water was showered onto Ille during the pause for the sixth and final round. He looked as if he had just stepped out of the shower with water forming puddles under his stall. The referee delayed the sixth round momentarily and ordered towels to mop up the soaked canvas.
The final round was a thriller with both men throwing in bunches, trading toe-to-toe and getting the crowd up onto their feet. Experience told at this point and the round was much closer than the previous four. All the while it was Duffy on the front foot and holding the centre of the ring. The Irishman stayed composed and cruised to a hard fought but well deserved victory.
He showed enormous courage to claw his way back into the bout after the mishap in the first round and trainer John Tandy was impressed with the way his prodigy handled himself and gave an honest assessment of the fight.
"I think if he'd [Ille] landed another one the same then we would have been in a lot of trouble but Joe covered up well, he made the mistake and he recovered from it and to be honest you can't ask any more from him in the next five rounds he boxed the guy well, he recovered well, he was listening to what I was saying in the corner and doing what he needed to do". "Joe's reasonably new to boxing, he's only been doing it a year. Things that come naturally to people that have been boxing for years and years isn't there with Joe yet. It's going to take time and we understand that".
Duffy himself felt the shot was a good one but was confident he could carry on and win the fight. "As soon as I got back up it was just a case of getting my head clear and start thinking about the rest of the rounds. It happened early on so we had five rounds to chase so we were just keeping positive and making sure we took every round after that. I got up, I recovered pretty sharply and I felt like my wits were there so it was just a case of on with the show".
Trainer Adam Brearley was also satisfied with the result and saw the positives in the performance. "It's testament to the way we train as a team, the work ethic we have. I believe not many camps train as hard as we do. His conditioning was for me the reason he got up, as well as his heart. In terms of the game plan, after that knock down he definitely stuck to the game plan, he boxed the guy and worked well. One or two things we'd like him to do better but you can say that in every single fight so on the whole we were pleased with how he boxed.
Since beginning his professional boxing career in March and after being in full training for almost a year, Duffy now boasts a 6-fight winning record. He'll now take the rest of September off and aims to be back out again in October to add another couple of wins to his record before the year is out.
The domestic middleweight division is packed with talent at the moment so does Duffy feel he can compete with the likes of Barker, Murray, Macklin and Saunders?
"I don't do a sport if I don't think I can go to the top. There's no point in doing it just to make the numbers up, I want to be the best in the world" said Duffy.