06 September 2009 – By Steve Wellings
Bernard Dunne held a media workout on Thursday last as he prepares for the first defence of his world title on September 26.
Chief sparring partner and recently unsuccessful world title challenger Olivier Lontchi was on hand to offer his insight as well as promoter Brian Peters and trainer Harry Hawkins.
The Holy Trinity gym in Turf Lodge a recent subject of the club focus series – was the venue and Bernard engaged the writers before shadow boxing and working the pads for photographers. Looking relaxed and confident, the Dublin man was in trim shape and explained the rigors of his new training schedule.
“I do some intense workouts with Alec Doherty here in Belfast and again with Mike McGurn in Dublin,” he said.
“The level Im at now means I need to keep pushing harder and this sort of preparation will be the same for every fight from now on.”
Dunne has left most of the studying to trainer Harry Hawkins as the expert strategist looks to put Bernards physical advantages to the test against the Thais buzzsaw approach. Another studious member of the team is Canadian based sparring partner Olivier Lontchi who has been hired to replicate Poonsawats style this is a job, which includes some extra curricular work.
“Ive been studying the tapes hard and I can see that Bernard has the beating of this guy, said Lontchi. I dont usually come over for sparring work but I like it here in Ireland and I would like to come back for a holiday and see the sites; this trip is purely for business.”
While Olivier might have had some trouble understanding us, we didnt have any problem with his impressive grasp of English and the amiable boxer, originally from Cameroon, is lining up another world title crack after falling short against Juan Manuel Lopez in Puerto Rico. Harry Hawkins meanwhile sees the Kiko Martinez loss as a surprise turning point in Dunnes fortunes.
“The Martinez loss was a line in the sand and we could have been getting too arrogant, dropped our guard, who knows? To move to world level we needed to get stronger and after Kiko it gave us the wake up call that was needed. The conditioning ensured Bernard could survive against Cordoba and the O2 crowd will intimidate the Thai opponent I can assure you; thats already a couple of rounds in the bank to Bernard.”
Much has been made of Poonsawats strength and punching power but as Dunne freely admits, the Thai is a better technician than people give him credit for. This is the fighter that Ricardo Cordoba travelled to Ireland to avoid (Poonsawat had beaten Cordoba in 2005) and his only loss came in world title company to Wladimir Sidorenko in Germany. Dunne will have at least a three inch height advantage and will do well to keep the marauding away man at bay with his solid jab and underrated body attack.
Bernard admits the pressure is on, and as Israel Vazquez lurks in the shadows, he must negotiate this tricky first defense before any talk of Las Vegas strip showdowns can even enter the equation. “Hes a combination puncher, throws a lot and very right hand orientated so he may come out and try to do a Kiko and be very aggressive early on. Well be ready for that though and remember that theres not many world champions who fight their number one contender in the first fight.”