Bernard Dunne believes Noel Wilders will wilt before his class and the passion of his Irish supporters in the National Stadium, Dublin tomorrow night.
Unbeaten Dubliner Dunne has his sights on a showdown with European super-bantamweight champion Michael Hunter later this year and views Wilders as an ideal stepping stone.
Wilders, a former European and IBO bantamweight champion, has come back from the brink of retirement to face Dunne and he, like Irish boxing’s latest prospect, wants a shot at Hunter.
Dunne, 25, spent three years in America with top trainer Freddie Roach before returning home to Dublin and he insists that 2006 will be his year.
“I don’t care who it is or how much experience they have when they enter the stadium and hear that crowd they’ll be shocked. It has to have an effect,” said Dunne.
“I just love the atmosphere and I feed off it, I like the fans to be entertained after the entrance then he has to face me.
“And I’m just ready to go and I’m very confident that I’ll win. I’m starting to show more power and I’m improving my boxing as well.
“I would say this is a step up in class for me but not a big jump up in class, it’s more gradual and that’s the way to go about things and a win over Wilders will have me knocking on Hunter’s door.
“That’s the fight I want this year, I want to be European champion by the end of the year and Wilders will be a good name on my record.
“I think most of all he will test me mentally because he’s a smart boxer, he always keeps you thinking and I need to stay focused, but I’m looking forward to that.
“I know I have the power to hurt him, everyone knows that my body shots can do damage but if I stop him it would be a big bonus.”
Wilders, 31, from Castleford, believes he can derail Dunne’s plans and cause an upset.
“I have the experience, I have fought at a higher level and that could well be the difference,” he said.
On the supporting bill, Dublin-born Michael Gomez aims to get his career back on track by winning the Irish lightweight title.
Gomez faces journeyman Peter McDonagh, who has brought in mind bender Uri Geller to help him shape up for the contest.
Having won the British super-featherweight title from Scotland’s Alex Arthur in 2003 adopted Mancunian Gomez’s career had a new lease of life, following on from a shock defeat to Kevin Lear for the WBU belt a year earlier.
Gomez would eventually lift the WBU belt with a third-round stoppage of Ben Odamattey in 2004, but last February he lost it convincingly to Javier Alvarez.
“The scales beat me that night and that’s why I have moved up to lightweight and I’ll show everyone that I’m back and stronger at lightweight,” said Gomez.
Brian Magee will warm up for his British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title fight with Carl Froch on March 31 at the King’s Hall with an eight-rounder against Belarusian Daniil Prakapsou.