Never mind a loss, can a series of bad wins derail a fighter's career? John Duddy (right, in green) is about to put that theory to the test. Last February the hard-hitting, New York City--based Irish middleweight was in line for a shot at champion Kelly Pavlik. But a lackluster victory over unheralded Walid Smichet killed the Pavlik bout and stalled Duddy's rise. Duddy, 29, did himself no favors last Saturday either, when, on the Cotto-Jennings undercard at Madison Square Garden, he trudged to a unanimous-decision victory over Matt Vanda (above, in red), taking some lumps along the way. "He took the wee out of me," said Duddy, "but I'm still standing." While the win improved Duddy's record to 26--0 (17 KOs), it didn't enhance his chances at a title shot. A more likely scenario is Duddy's facing undefeated Julio César Chávez Jr., with the winner earning the right to challenge Pavlik.