Daily Sport talks to Joe Duffy

DAILY SPORT catches up with top 70kg MMA fighter and cast iron gentleman Joe Duffy ahead of his pro-boxing debut.

PZ:          How did you become interested in martial arts?


JD:          I started when I was five years old with Tae Kwon Do. The same club also had Jiu Jitsu being taught, so I starting training with those guys also. Before you know it I was interested in competing in MMA!


PZ:          Of all the martial arts you practiced which was your favourite and why?


JD:          Jiu Jitsu is definitely my favourite. The style I was learning was the classical form, which involved the striking and the grappling, as taught directly in Japan. I found it really interesting because it was more than just training, the history that went with the Jiu Jitsu style I was training made it far more enjoyable.


PZ:          You have a very strong record of 10 pro wins and 2 amateur wins, and with the exception of your fight with Francis Heagney, you won all of your fights in the first round. You only have one loss on your record. Why do you now want to throw your hat into the pro boxing circuit?


JD:          It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I moved from my old gym at the start of this year and when I came up to London, I started working with top boxing coach John Tandy. It was great to start working with somebody with such a great wealth of experience, and somebody with worldwide recognition. He had his own gym in California and has worked with some of the top names, so to have the opportunity to be trained by him was one not to be missed.


My thoughts are that I will give boxing a go, and if worst comes to worst I will go back to MMA.


PZ:          Something tells me you will have a future in boxing. You haven’t even had your pro boxing debut yet and you sparred with George Groves ahead of his last fight with Francisco Sierra. You have also sparred with Chris Eubank Jr and today was sparring with James De Gale. Hardly low level people to move around in a ring with!


JD:          (Joe laughs). Let’s take it fight by fight and see where it takes me.


PZ:          The majority of your wins have been via Submission. Is this due to the way MMA works, or do you think your boxing skills are a big factor and will not get fully utilised in the cage?


JD:          I usually start off with striking, but to be honest, I’ve always done whatever it had taken to win. You need to be very adaptable with MMA and be prepared to work with working on the floor or standing toe to toe at a seconds notice within a fight.


PZ:          Did you decide yourself to give the pro boxing circuit a go or did somebody in particular tell you to give it a go?


JD:          When I started working with John (Tandy), he was very impressed with my hand speed and how quickly I pick things up. We then got into a bit of discussion about how I might do in pro boxing and we thought, ‘why not give it a go’! I’m the type of person that would always like to give something a go and for it to not work out than not try it at all.


PZ:          Who are you fighting in September?


JD:          There’s nobody lined up at the minute, but it’s looking more likely to be October. At this point we are still waiting for my license to go through. I only started with the boxing training in March, and since then have really been focusing on getting the license through. There’s been other complications such as John getting his Manager’s license as he was coming from the USA and teaching out there. I think we are now at the point where everything is about to go through and we can concentrate on getting in the ring and boxing.


PZ:          Will you still be fighting at MMA whilst boxing?


JD:          No. The MMA for the moment is taking a back seat and I am concentrating on the boxing.


PZ:          Tell us a bit more about the team around you. Trainers, manager, promoter.


JD:          I only got to know John since about February and he is taking care of my training. Graham Boylan helped to managing me during my MMA, and he has introduced me to Mickey Helliet who is also helping to start with promoting me.


PZ:          Who will your training camp differ for the boxing match versus MMA?


JD:          The boxing training is far more intense, but not as often. The MMA involves covering a wide range of disciplines between grappling, wrestling, striking etc, so you need to put in more days. That said, I train six days per week!


PZ:          What are your strengths as a boxer?


JD:          I would say my work rate and speed.


PZ:          Any boxing role models?


JD:          I wouldn’t say I could base my style on them yet, but as a kid I used to love watching Tyson, and I grew up watching Steve Collins as he was one of the few top Irish fighters around at that time. In terms of ability and technique I would love to be able to emulate Calzaghe and Andre Ward.


PZ:          Any MMA idols?


JD:          I’ve always been a huge fan of George St Pierre, and Wanderlei (Silva) just for the pure will to fight and aggression.


PZ:          Long term ambitions in boxing if things work out?


JD:          If the boxing works out I want to go to the top. Everything I do I want to be the best in the world, so that’s my goal now. There’s no point in me doing this if I’m just going to make up the numbers.


PZ:          Tell us about yourself when you are not at the gym.


JD:          I don’t stray that from my training. Even when I’m at home John Tandy gives me homework to do, studying fights and techniques. When I’m not doing that I’m just chilling following sport or watching DVD’s.


At the weekend I try to get away from London and see my girlfriend and generally relax.


PZ:          Tell the readers one thing about yourself that not many people know.


JD:          I don’t have a television at the moment! If I win my first boxing title I might buy one from the winnings.

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