Newly-crowned WBA super bantamweight champ Bernard Dunne admits that he was inspired by the Irish rugby team en route to his win over defending champ Ricardo Cordoba at The O2 Arena in Dublin on Saturday night.
Dunne floored the Panamanian three times in the 11th frame of an all-out war of attrition which is already being touted as the fight of the year.
Cordoba needed medical attention immediately after the stoppage and was lifted out of the ring on a stretcher and taken to hospital as a precaution, but was discharged on Sunday afternoon.
Dunne now becomes the first Irishman since Barry McGuigan — who beat Panamanian Eusebio Pedroza in London in 1985 to claim the World featherweight title — to adorn his waist with a WBA belt.
“It’s ours, it’s all ours. This has justified everything I have ever done in boxing,” said Dunne after his historic win.
“I was watching the match in Cardiff before the fight and I think that victory lifted us all. The Irish team dug deep for that win and even when they were behind you always had this feeling that they believed in themselves.
“I would like to thank my coach Harry Hawkins and Brian Peters and everyone that has helped me down through the years. It has been a long journey and thank you to all those people that stuck by me,” he said.
In the main support bout of the evening, Limerick southpaw Andy Lee, who boxes out of the Detroit Kronk, registered a 99-91 win over Germany’s Alex Sipos.
Lee wisely opted to work behind his raking right jab for most of this fight and dropped Sipos in a neutral corner with a beautiful right in the sixth.
However, the German, who sparred with Lee at Wladimir Klitschko’s training camp in Austria last year, refused to buckle and continued to walk the 2004 Irish Olympian down for the remainder of the 10-rounder.
The Munich-born middleweight had a particularly good ninth round, stepping inside to catch Lee with some solid shots midway through the frame.
However, Lee, who had not fought since last August because of an operation to repair damaged tissue over his right eye, closed out the 10th to claim a deserved victory.
Meantime, reigning World, European and European Union champion Katie Taylor outclassed American lightweight Caroline Barry to register yet another victory.
The hard-hitting AIBA 2008 world female boxer of the year produced a four-round, tour de force to earn a commanding 27-3 win over the three times Pan American champion.
Speaking after the fight, Taylor, who stopped Barry on the 15-point rule en route to gold at the 2006 World Championships in New Delhi, admitted she was stunned by the welcome she received from Irish boxing fans.
“I couldn’t believe the reception I got — it was an amazing experience for me. I knew it was going to be a tough fight and well done to her for never backing off,” she said.
The Bray woman, whose dad Peter and Pat Ryan were working her corner, will defend her European title later this year.
Stylish lightweight Andy Murray claimed the vacant European Union title at the O2.
The unbeaten 26-year-old Cavan fighter dominated his 12-rounder with Spanish brawler Daniel Rasilla to stretch his career record to 15 wins after earning a unanimous decision.
Elsewhere on the O2 card, World Youth champion Ray Moylette and Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Paddy Barnes had their hands raised in victory.
Barnes, the reigning Irish senior light flyweight champion from the Holy Family club in Belfast, chalked up a convincing 11-1 over Jim Linden.
And Moylette, from the St Anne’s club in Westport, beat Rob Gorman 9-6 in a re-match of their recent Irish Senior Championships lightweight clash, which Moylette also won.
Meanwhile, Jim Rock produced one of his most impressive performances to date to out-point Italian middleweight Alessio Furlan, with a 97-94 verdict by referee David Irvine.