Dunne faces testing Thai

BERNARD DUNNE has promised fireworks and an education for the challenger in his first WBA super-bantamweight title defence at the O2 Arena on September 26.

Known as Thailand’s Manny Pacquiao, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym has just one defeat from 38 bouts, suffered at the hands of Wladimir Sidorenko when challenging for the WBA bantamweight belt three years ago.

Included amongst his victims is Ricardo Cordoba, the man dethroned in sensational fashion by Dunne on an unforgettable night at the O2 on March 21.

Poonsawat has waited 18 months to get his mandatory challenge. An all-action fighter, Dunne likens him to a Tasmanian Devil.

“I’m not going to have to look for him in the ring, that’s for sure,” he said at yesterday’s press conference in the O2. “He’s going to be chasing me, he’s going to be looking for me and that’s what I want. He’s going to look to get inside me (but) I’ve got a three-inch height advantage on him.

“I want to box him. I want to give him a lesson and show him what the art of boxing is all about. I’m a better boxer than a fighter but physically we showed that we are matured and we are getting stronger, that we are more durable. The last fight, getting up twice to knock down Cordoba, has done a lot for me, not just boxing-wise, but mentally.”

Poonsawat has been quoted as saying that while Dunne has plenty of heart, he does not think he is a skilled boxer. The champion is unperturbed.

“He obviously didn’t watch me box. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’ll show him exactly what I can do when I get into the ring. I believe that technically, I can handle myself with anybody in the world.

“I think I’m going to be too much for him. He’s saying I’m not a skilful fighter, he’s obviously not an educated man in boxing. I’m ready to pull out all the stops.”

Promoter Brian Peters had tried to set up a voluntary defence before taking on Poonsawat. Celestino Caballero, Steve Molitor and Juan Manuel Lopez were amongst the names being bandied about.

Negotiations with Israel Vazquez were advanced but he is still on medical suspension and wanted to fight at featherweight.

In the end, the WBA stepped in and ruled that Dunne must fight the patient Poonsawat. That suited the Dubliner just fine.

“When we set out to discuss our next step, I said ‘let’s fire, let’s put him bed (or) he’s always going to be there’. Being champion of the world you’ve got to be willing to fight the next best thing and Poonsawat has been the next best thing for 18 months.”

Dunne has been in camp with trainer Harry Hawkins in Belfast for the past four weeks, having begun his own preparations two months before that.

Renowned conditioning expert Mike McGurn was credited with a huge role in enabling Dunne to outstay Cordoba in a gruelling contest to claim the coveted belt and he reckons that his charge will be three times as good come September 26.

“My conditioning is improving all the time,” Dunne insists. “I’m probably ready to fight at this stage but it’s about making sure I don’t peak too early. We will now start studying videos and the movement that will be used against (Poonsawat) and try and work those into every routine that we do.

“I’ve been going through torture the last few weeks in training. It’s been great becoming world champion but I wanna stay there. The one thing I’ve still got is hunger (even though) I’ve achieved my lifetime ambition.

“(The training) is just not human. It’s definitely not fun. I’m pushing my body to the limits. Between Mike and Harry, they’ve everything in hand.”

Tickets for the Hunky Dorys World Title Fight Night, at which Cavan’s Andrew Murray also defends his EU Lightweight crown, are priced from €50 and go on sale from 9am today from Ticketmaster and usual outlets.

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