Bernard Dunne owes Ireland nothing

09/28/2009 10:03 AM

Bernard Dunne lost his WBA world super bantamweight title to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym last Saturday night after the Thai challenger knocked the 29-year-old down three times in the third round.

Dunne was reportedly in the best shape of his life, and admitted afterwards that it was his own "stupid fault for getting lured into a fight."

Dunne needed to use his reach advantage and long jabs to keep the heavy-handed Thai fighter at bay, and move out of danger to win the fight from distance.

In the first round this strategy worked a treat, and the crowd roared as Dunne's hands looked fluid and his jab pooped Poonsawat's head in the opening stanza.

In the second he was still sticking to the plan, but his opponent was walking through his combinations and he began to cut off the ring more. The crowd, sensing another Dunne /Cordoba epic, roared the combatants on.

In the third, Ponnsawat stepped up the pressure and Dunne took the bait and started trading toe to toe. One left hook later, the Neilstown man was slumped on the canvas.

As pundit and former pro Jim Rock said afterwards "you can’t build muscles on chins," and no matter how good you are, no matter how fast you are, no matter how much stamina you have, if you are "chinny" you live in a house of cards.

And if you are a boxer, you can be guaranteed one thing, you are going to get hit.

Though he got up, Dunne's eyes were gone and the legs looked unsteady. Like a wounded animal he fought on instinct, but his opponent was clinically patient and decked him two more times with power punches that ended one champion’s reign and started another's.

Dunne needed oxygen afterwards and later went to the Beaumont hospital to get the all clear, but before his did so, he spoke to RTE's Marty Morrissey.

He said that he felt terrible because he wanted to give the Irish a lift, in general because they have been going through a tough time economically and specifically for the Irish boxing community because of the recent death of Darren Sutherland.

That is a lot of weight to be carrying on a heavyweight's shoulders going into a world title fight, not to mind a super bantamweight.

Bernard Dunne owes Ireland nothing. Single handedly, he was the fighter who led the revival of professional boxing in the country over the past few years.

In March he was part of one of the greatest days in Irish sport when he won the WBA title in a Fight of the Year candidate against Ricardo Cordoba a few hours after the Irish rugby team won the Grand Slam in the six nations.

People do not forget these things easily. After he was brutally ko'ed by Kiko Martinez a couple of years ago, he regrouped and took his show on the road to Mayo where he began the process of trying to get back to the top of his sport.

And he got there, and, as he said himself, fulfilled his life goal by becoming world champion. And he brought the Irish Public with him on his journey. That is enough.

And he always fronted up to the camera, win or lose.

If he stays in the sport, there is talk of a move up to featherweight. The 29-year-old has a record of 28-2, with both losses coming by way of knockout.

Careful planning will be necessary should he move up a weight, where there is a little more weight behind the shots. If he chooses to continue then the road again will be a long and hard one, but Dunne knows this as he has put in every minute and every painful session of it before. Whatever decision he makes about his future, the Irish public should support and respect it. That is the least that Bernard Dunne deserves.

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