In its illustrious boxing history, Youngstown has still had many great fighters fly under the radar and Billy Lyell of Niles was certainly one of them. A crafty defensive fighter who found himself as a heavy underdog in a handful of his fights and the evening of April 24th of 2009 was no exception.
Lyell landed a fight in Newark, New Jersey to take on 29-year-old John Duddy at the Prudential Center. Duddy who hailed from Derry, Northern Ireland but found a following of fans in New York City entered the fight with an undefeated record of 26-0 and a #2 world ranking in the middleweight division while the 24-year-old Lyell carried a respectable 18-7 record into the ring.
Many in the boxing world thought of Lyell as a tuneup for Duddy's possible showdown with another Youngstown fighter, the middleweight champion of the world Kelly Pavlik. Lyell had different plans, however.
Lyell, under the watchful eye of trainer Jack Loew, showed what Youngstown was all about that night bringing a blue-collar mindset into the ring and outworking Duddy from the opening bell until the final bell. Lyell would cut Duddy above his left eye in the third eye, and again in the seven round while dominating the Irishman over the course of 10 rounds landing right hand after right hand.
After it was all said and done the only people who could take a victory away from Lyell, who had some blood coming from a cut on the bridge of his nose, were the three judges sitting ringside as the fight went to the scorecards.
The first score announced by the ring announcer was 97-93 in favor of Lyell while the second score announced had it as 96-94 for Duddy. The last score was announced was 98-92 for Lyell giving him the underdog from Youngstown the split decision victory.
Duddy would go on to finish his career with a 29-2 record losing the last fight of his career in 2010 for the vacant WBC Silver Middleweight title to Julio César Chávez Jr.
Lyell, who in hindsight saved Duddy from being humiliated from Pavlik, would continue to have a solid career finishing his career with a 25-11 record which included losses to Chávez Jr. for the WBC Silver Middleweight belt and to Sebastian Sylvester for the IBF World middleweight belt.