23 September 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Bernard Dunne is in a confident frame of mind ahead of the first defence of his WBA super-bantamweight title, against Poonsawat Kartingdaenggym at The O2 on Saturday night.
Thailands Kartingdaenggym is one of the most highly-respected fighters in the 122lb division, boasting a record of just one defeat from 29 fights, and is actually ranked above Dunne by noted boxing website boxrec.
However, while Dunne has an enormous amount of respect for Kartingdaenggym, the champion that home advantage will again prove significant on the night.
“Im delighted to be having my first defence in Ireland. We fought so hard to get it here and thats not just for myself but all of the Irish people,” the Dubliner said at the pre-fight press conference.
“Weve worked so hard to get this belt and I felt it was only right that wed have our first defence here and thankfully Brian was able to secure home advantage.
“I really am looking forward to the challenge ahead. Hes a fantastic fighter, theres no doubt about that. Hes obviously a brave lad for agreeing to come to my home town to box, in front of my home fans, so I think its going to make for an excellent fight.”
Indeed, Dunne has been impressed by what he has seen of the heavy-handed Kartingdaenggym, who boasts 27 knockouts on his resume.
“We managed to get our hands on a couple of dvds of his last couple of fights and hes very impressive. Styles make fights, of course, and I think our styles are going to make for an exciting fight, he mused.
“At this level, every fight is a tough fight. Poonsawat has proven throughout the years with the calibre of fighter hes fought that hes worthy of his ranking as the mandatory challenger. His record speaks for itself.
“He can fight, he can box, the whole lot. But we all know what I can do and we all know from the (Ricardo) Cordoba fight the lengths Im willing to go to in order to win.”
Dunne, of course, twice hauled himself up off the canvas during his stunning victory over Cordoba before eventually stopping the Panamanian in the 12th to claim the WBA title.
There is an obvious temptation to read much into the fact that Kartingdaenggym was the beneficiary of what some thought was a hometown decision when he claimed a split-decision points win over Cordoba when they met in Thailand some four years ago but Dunne believes that drawing parallels between the two fights are pointless.
“This is a completely different fight. Cordobas a southpaw, for starters, and I dont think Cordoba punches as hard as I do so Poonsawat was able to walk through the punches. Hes going to be running into a wall against me effectively.
“Hes going to bring a lot to the table; I just have to make sure that I bring that little bit more. And Im confident I will.”
Indeed, Dunnes confidence is based on the results of his punishing training regime with trainer John Breen and fitness guru Mike McGurn, believing that he will be even better conditioned than he was for the Cordoba fight.
“We really pushed ourselves to the limit this time. Weve really gone further than weve ever gone before. And that was simply because we were aware of the size of the challenge that lay before us. We left no stone unturned,” he explained.
“Between Mike and Harry, theyve kept on top of me, made sure I worked my socks off in terms of strength, conditioning and technique.”
Dunne also believes that size will be an issue. He is the noticeably bigger man and enjoys a significant height and reach advantage over the challenger. That, Dunne feels, will reap dividends.
“Hes going to be in range a lot more than I will be for him. So for him to attack me there is going to be an extra split-second there for me to hit him because hell be within my reach sooner. So thats a definite advantage. Im quite tall for the weight division so Im used to boxing guys that are smaller me and quite good at it as a result.”