23 March 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Bernard Dunne admits that it could be quite some time before his world title success fully sinks in but he is already looking ahead excitedly to the prospect of unification bouts.
Written off after his shock stoppage defeat by Kiko Martinez in August, 2007, Dunne silenced the naysayers by dethroning the highly-rated Ricardo Cordoba as WBA super-bantamweight by stopping the Panamanian in the eleventh round of an epic battle in Dublins O2 Arena on Saturday night.
However, even though he always believed himself capable of winning a world title, Dunne confessed to being overwhelmed by his spectacular success.
“It really hasnt sunk in yet. Its a dream come true, it really is. And it was a lot of hard work, by me, my team and my family. A lot of sacrifices went into getting this title but theyve all paid off, the 29-year-old Dubliner said.
“Its been an incredible ride to get here. Its been a long road, the eight years Ive been pro, the ten years as an amateur. Ive been in boxing since I was five years old!
And now we can have some fun! Lets see how far we can go with this title and what else we can add to it.”
Dunnes triumph was all the more remarkable for the fact that he had twice been forced to pick himself up off the canvas in the fifth. Even then, he did not doubt that he could still win the title, thanks in no small part to the advice of his trainer Harry Hawkins.
“I just remember coming back to the corner and Harry sitting me down and saying, look, that round is gone, so lets move on and win the next one. Thats how we planned the whole fight. Harry had this all worked out. He knew that this guy was going to come out strong at the start of every round, for about 30-40 seconds, Dunne explained.
“After that it was about grinding him down, putting the pressure on. So, we were just absorbing his early pressure and then taking advantage. Harry told me to think of each round as a separate fight, 12 different fights, and thats what I did, thats how I beat him.
“Even after I dropped him in the third, when I came back to the corner Harry said, right, youve won that round but thats over now. Lets get ready for the next one. So that helped me focus. I was just concentrating on winning the next three minutes each time.”
Dunne was also keen to pay tribute to the rest of his team, not least conditioning expert Mike McGurn.
“I think you saw the result of the work I put in to the training camp for the past 12 weeks, he argued. Working with Mikey McGurn has been phenomenal.
“And it was a fantastic camp because there was no negativity. Everyone has doubters but I just always focused on myself and the talent that I believed that I had. My team never doubted me either. They would never have put me in a position to fight for a world title if they hadnt thought that I could win it.
“That a load of people were saying that I couldnt win the fight took all the pressure off me. There was no expectation on me.
But we knew the work that wed put in so we knew what I was capable of going in there.”
The incredible support he received from The O2 crowd did not go unheralded by the new champion either.
“Its obviously an amazing arena but what an atmosphere! Those people really did believe in me. They didnt spend their money to see me get beaten. They spent their money to see me become a world champion and they were phenomenal,” he enthused.
“The support Ive had from everyone since I came home from America four years ago has been amazing really. Even after the defeat from Kiko the fans never stepped away from me and weve just kicked on from there. Thats a credit to them.”
Meanwhile, Dunne was somewhat bemused when he was told that he was trailing on all three judges scorecards after ten rounds against Cordoba.
“Really, he exclaimed. Still, thats irrelevant now! But I definitely would have thought that I was ahead.
“After the second knockdown in the 11th I was thinking, right, Im definitely ahead now’ because at that stage I didnt think Id get another crack at him before the end of the round.
But thank God that I did if that was the scoring!”