Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Boxing: Dunne set for biggest test yet

Bernard Dunne
Bernard Dunne

Not even being wakened from his mid training rest could annoy Bernard Dunne.

The countdown to the first defence of his WBA World super-bantamweight title is well and truly on and Dunne has been enduring a monastic training regime in order to turn back the challenge of Thailand's Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym on September 26 at the O2 Arena in Dublin.

As usual the Holy Trinity club in Belfast is his setting for the intensive work which has brought him to the status of world champion. Indeed, Dunne and Belfast coach Harry Hawkins seem to have a structure that many others could learn from.

“When I look back and think how I got to the top ten in the world and European champion I'm amazed because now I'm probably doing 40 per cent more. We have moved things on so much and you know we are always looking to change and improve,” says Dunne.

Evidence of the the little Dubliner's confidence is not by rash outbursts or vows of extreme pain for his opponent but instead it is his laconic persona as he ponders “the hardest fight to date”.

By the time he comes to prepare for his entrance to the ring Dunne will have spent ten weeks in camp, working with Hawkins, conditioner Mike McGurn and a nutritionist as well as two first rate sparring partners. No expense spared as he bids to keep living the dream.

Beijing Olympic silver medallist Khedafi Djelkhir of France and world rated Canadian Oliver Lontchi, who is coming off a defeat to Juan Manuel Lopez in June for the WBO World title.

Coach Hawkins said: “Djelkhir is an excellent little fighter and in terms of his physical attributes he’s quite similar to Poonsawat so he should be good work for Bernard. He was very impressive in the Olympics last year and he’s expected to go on and do very big things in the pro ranks.

“Lontchi is very fast and has proved to be an excellent sparring partner as well.”

Dunne’s career has been transformed from that moment two years ago when Kiko Martinez’s fists ended his reign as European champion and made world title ambitions seem almost fanciful.

Suddenly plaudits dried up and the doubters mushroomed but Dunne never stopped believing that he could reach the summit.

Panamanian Ricardo Cordoba still looked to many to be a champion of too much resolve to allow Dunne to grasp that peak but instead after one of the greatest fights on Irish soil the Dubliner triumphed with an 11th round stoppage.

“Harry and my dad were the two people who never lost faith in me and that meant so much,” added Dunne.

“You need that kind of faith in you to achieve anything in sport. If they had said ‘you know that’s as far as you can go’ then I would have had to have accepted that but they told me I had the skill to match anyone in the world.”

Everything it seems is in place for another O2 thriller.

Meanwhile, Martin Lindsay has been ordered by the British Boxing Board of Control to defend his British featherweight title against reigning Commonwealth champion John Simpson.

Due to Setanta’s demise, Lindsay has been left in limbo following his stunning victory over Paul Appleby in April.

Appleby has moved on to box for the European title, while Lindsay awaits to see who will win the purse bids on October 14.

Former World heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is expected to make the draw for the Prizefighter event tonight on Sky.

The heavyweight Prizeighter event on October 2 features Audley Harrison, Danny Williams and Ulsterman Scott Belshaw.

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