Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Frailty back to haunt Dunne

Sometimes the seeds of defeat are sown in victory and so it was for Bernard Dunne.

The miraculous night in March when he came back from the brink of defeat to claim the WBA super-bantamweight title will forever be remembered as a glorious day for Irish sport but amid the glory of Ireland winning the Grand Slam and Dunne's triumph, his vulnerability was overlooked.

Bouncing off the canvas, he became an instant Irish hero but such brinkmanship can only last so long.

On Saturday night Thailand's Poonsawat Pratingdaenggym drew him into a trap and unlike Ricardo Cordoba was not allowing him to escape. Just as two years when losing the European title to Kiko Martinez, whose stature Poonsawat resembled, Dunne was cut down in clinical fashion.

He was a pitiful sight as his legs resembled a newly born foal and his eyes lost in a sea of distress. The fists were still pumping out blows but the engine was packing up as Poonsawat sent him to the canvas on three occasions.

The WBA's three knockdown rule meant in his first defence at 2:57 his reign was over. It could easily have been stopped before he fell face down and required oxygen from ringside medics.

Mandatory challenger Poonsawat had struggled to make the weight but Dunne didn't allow himself the opportunity to take advantage in the later rounds. Could the result have been different? Quite possibly.

With the invective of 9,000 cascading from every corner of the O2 Arena in Dublin, Poonsawat had paused for a minute before entering the ring to seek divine inspiration and in the second round he must have felt those prayers had been answered. Dunne boxed with a cool authority in the opening three minutes, convincingly playing the role of matador as Poonsawat bullishly rumbled forward on tramlines but then in the second the charismatic Dubliner began his descent into oblivion.

The Thai's eyes lit up as he brushed off Dunne's short blows to the body and slung back his own with interest. The warning signs were there but instead of retreating Dunne marched through his own valley of doom in the third and was torn apart by a succession of hooks, leaving him crushed and with blood streaming from his right ear and left eye.

It would seem that the Dunne bandwagon has come to its last stop and I certainly wouldn't like to see this brave warrior back in a ring again. As he said last week, “I have achieved my dream of becoming a world champion.”

Reflecting on his bitter loss, Dunne said: “It is hard to explain how I actually feel.

“There are so many people who have sacrificed much to get me to where I am – my wife, my family, my manager and promoter Brian Peters, my trainer Harry Hawkins. It is a tough time at the moment for the Irish people in general and especially for the Irish boxing people with the passing of Darren Sutherland, and I wanted so badly this week to lift the mood and give people a bit of joy.

“I knew what to expect. I knew he was going to be aggressive early but I allowed myself to be lured into a fight and I should not have done that. It is my own stupid fault, to be honest.

“We've been down before and we have come back and won a world title. It is going to take a long time to get over this, but I will get over it and come back fighting.”

One Irishman who came out a winner was Belfast's Pat Magee, who promotes Poonsawat and also manages Spaniard Martinez, who lost an IBF title eliminator at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Lurgan welterweight Stephen Haughian may have won 18 of his 20 fights but after a draw with Estonian journeyman Albert Starikov on the supporting bill his career is in danger of sliding into obscurity.

Haughian, who hit the canvas in the third, was fuming at the scoring by referee David Irving but he knows this kind of opponent needs to be dealt with in a more ruthless manner. Inactivity and a lack of motivation may well have been underlying factors.

Vitali Klitschko retained his WBC heavyweight title at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles with a convincing stoppage of Mexican-American Cris Arreola.

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