10 July 2009 – By Mark Doyle
On Saturday night, a proud Irishman will challenge for a world title. However, you would be hard pressed to find anyone within The Emerald Isle who is aware of that fact.
Bobby Gunn was born in America and raised in Canada but both of his parents are Irish and he will enter the ring at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for his IBF cruiserweight title showdown with the highly-rated Tomasz Adamek surrounded by tricolors.
Known as The Celtic Warrior, Gunn will also enter with the backing of the man who previously held that moniker.
“I spoke to Steve Collins on Tuesday,” the challenger excitedly reveals during a conversation with irish-boxing.com.
“He’s the original Celtic Warrior obviously and he told me, ‘Bobby, we all have setbacks in life but youve got a great opportunity here and youve got to take it. Youre a puncher and punchers can always upset the odds. Go in there and go for it.’
“And youre an Irishman, so that’ll count for a lot in there!
“All of my family come from Clare and Cork and I was in Dublin a couple of times last year to meet up with some of them. I still have a bit of an Irish accent and Im doing this for all of Ireland.
“I’ve fought for a lot of championships and I even fought for a world title before but this fight is for The Ring title. The IBF title is on the line, too, but The Ring title is something special.
“Tomasz Adamek is a great fighter, the best in our division, but God’s given me a great opportunity here and its up to me to make the most of it.
“I’m doing it for all of the Irish people all over the world and I really believe that I can go in there and knock this guy out.”
As Collins quite rightly alluded to, Gunn has had his fair share of setbacks both in and outside of the ring.
The 35-year-old Irish-American freely admits that he had a tough upbringing and that he fell in the ‘wrong crowd’ during the early part of his boxing career, which led to him being involved in a number of bare-knuckle brawls in his 20s.
However, after going 11 years without a professional fight, between 1993 and 2004, Gunn got himself – and his career – back on the right track and he picked up the vacant IBA cruiserweight title three years ago, a feat which earned him a crack at the then WBO champion, Enzo Maccarinelli, the following year.
Gunn was stopped in the first round of his meeting with the Welshman and the nature of that defeat still rankles. However, Gunne believes that the loss ultimately proved a blessing in disguise.
“The whole circumstances surrounding that fight were crazy. I really shouldn’t have taken the fight, truth be told, because the cards were stacked against me before I even landed in Wales,” he explains.
“But I’m not bitter, Enzo was the better man on the night and that fight taught me that I should never adopt a defensive style. And, after experiencing that loss, I know appreciate every single victory.
“So I’m just glad to be where I am today. I mean, look where Enzo is now and look where I am. That’s why boxing’s so great: everything can change on the back of one fight.
“And if you dont believe in upsets then youve never watched boxing becuse every fight can turn on one punch.”
There are few boxing writers who believe that there will be an upset in Newark on Saturday night, though. Adamek is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and many believe the second defence of his IBF crown to be something of a mismatch.
Unsurprisingly, Gunn is paying little heed to the critics and believes that the outcome to his second bid for a world title will be very different to his first.
“I’ve already been written off by everybody going into this fight so theres no pressure on me. Whatever I do is a bonus,” he muses.
“But you have to remember something: in boxing, a fight can change on one punch and I’m a puncher. I’ve trained my ass for three months and I’m hoping he thinks as little of me as all of the critics, because if he does, I’m going to catch this guy cold.”
And Gunn is adamant that if he does shock Adamek – and the rest of the boxing world for that matter – he will bring his newly-acquired titles to Ireland.
“I’ll be there next week if I beat Adamek! Im in talks right now with Paschal Collins about coming over this year,” he reveals.
“I want to fight for the Irish title because I qualify through my parents so Id love to fight in Ireland.
“But, as it is, Im representing Ireland in a Ring title fight on Saturday night.
“A lot of people are saying this and that about me but the bottom line is that you cant keep Bobby Gunn down. Ive fought my way back into a title shot and Adamek is going to find I’m very difficult to get rid of.
“A lot of fighters got offered a shot at Adamek but they wouldn’t fight him. But I don’t care because I’m a fighter; Im a warrior. You win some fights, you lose some fights but that’s what being a fighter is all about.
“What’s wrong with boxing today is that a lot of these fighters in the cruiserweight are prima donnas. Theyre more concerned with fancy boxing shorts and finding the right cologne than fighting. They dont want to be in wars. They just want to talk about.
“So, say what you want about Bobby Gunn but I’m a fighter and I’m not scared of a fight. I was brave enough to take the fight on and I can tell you it certainly wasnt for a payday because the money isn’t great.
“I’m just here to fight – and here to win.”