BERNARD DUNNE is putting the finishing touches to his preparations for the defence of his WBA World Super Bantamweight title against Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand at the O2 on Saturday week.
Kratingdaenggym is the fighter nobody wanted to meet – former champion, Ricardo Cordoba, avoided him for a year before taking on Dunne, who he thought was the easier option.
But the Dubliner had hardly fastened the belt around his waist before the Thai was making shapes and the WBA finally acceded to his request for a mandatory shot at the title.
“It did not matter who the fight was against as long as it was here in my home town,” Dunne said yesterday. “I wanted the first defence to be in Ireland. After this, God knows what will happen. The people deserve to have it here.
“This is going to be a hell of a fight. This isn’t a walk in the park. This guy has been sitting in mandatory position for over 18 months and he is phenomenal, very aggressive, constant workrate, it’s going to make for a hell of a fight.
“I am prepared to go as far as it takes to retain the title. I think I showed in the last fight what boxing means to me. What I’m about. I think the people showed what they are about. I said to you before ‘I believe’ and that is the one word I use – believe.
“I showed it in that fight. The second knockdown took so much out of me. I swear it was an out of body experience where I went through a whole conversation with myself.
“I was telling myself ‘it’s not over’ to be honest I was thinking to myself ‘this is it – this is done, what do you do now?’
“I looked up and Mammy wasn’t looking at me. It was the weirdest thing. I know she doesn’t watch the fights but it was so weird. I looked up and she wasn’t looking at me. She had her head on my Dad’s chest. I said ‘why isn’t she looking at me?’ then I could hear Harry’s screaming. He was using vulgar words but the gist of it was get up on your feet and up I got. I was dazed for about 20 seconds but towards the end of the round I blocked all his shots.
“I threw a left hook at the end of the round and I almost knocked the referee out. As I walked past the referee – and if you watch it back on DVD you will actually see me whisper a joke into the referee’s ear – ‘Wow,’ I said, ‘I nearly got you there’ and the referee laughed.
“At that stage I was back. I was focused. After the fight Harry said that when I went back to the corner he was just shocked how focused I was.
“I was very close to not getting up. But that’s boxing. You have to be able to deal with those things. What would have happened if I didn’t get up? God knows. I got up and I have a nice shiny belt at home which is testament to that great night.”
Dunne faces another ferocious opponent in Poonsawat.
Yesterday he did a second training session for the press in the High Performance Unit close to the National Stadium where he was unbeaten at amateur and professional.
Under his trainer, Harry Hawkins, he sparred three rounds with Canadian Olivier Lontchi, who spent some considerable time copying the Thai’s characteristics as preparation for his visit to Ireland. He followed that up with his second gruelling session of the day under strength and conditioning guru, Mike McGurn, the new weapon in his armoury.
“Some of the sessions we do are phenomenal,” he said. “They make you heave. We have driven ourselves further than we have ever gone before.
“The Cordoba fight was brilliant but we can’t just go to that level again. We have got to go beyond it. We have to keep improving. We have got to keep pushing ourselves. I have great guys in Harry and Mikey and there is no one better than my Dad to give me a kick up the bum if I’m not doing it right.
“We have a great sparring partner in Olivier Lontchi. He is a smart fighter because you can show him things on DVD that we want him to practice and what we want him to do against us, and he executes them perfectly and does what he is supposed to do.”
After this weekend he will spend some time watching DVDs of his opponent but he said he is not going to get too wrapped up in them.
“I don’t like to get too wound up about my opponent’s style – I try to focus on my own,” he said.
“You can watch as much as you want but it is when that first punch is thrown and you say ‘I wasn’t expecting that, what do I do now. It’s adapting to what happens in a boxing ring that matters.”
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