Boxing: Dunne plans to upset the odds
THIS is the big one for Bernard Dunne, so let us not be under any illusions about the task he faces on Saturday before a capacity crowd of 9,000 at the O2, formerly the Point, in Dublin.
True, the 29-year-old Dublin Dynamo has home advantage against Panama's world superbantamweight champion Ricardo Cordoba (24) but, once the bell rings, he's on his own.
Cordoba showed at a workout for the media at the National Stadium gym on Monday afternoon that he is a slick southpaw with fast combinations -- and he even has the luxury of having a reigning world champion as his chief sparring partner, fellow-Panamanian bantamweight Anselmo Moreno.
The bookies have Cordoba 1/3 favourite, with Dunne 9/4 against. But Dunne is fully capable of making a mockery of those odds and become the first Irish pro to win a world belt since Wayne McCullough last held the bantam title in January 1997.
Dunne has never been more confident going into what will be Ireland's first world title fight since McCullough outpointed Mexican Jose Luis Bueno in March 1996. With 27 wins in 28 fights, he will also be picking up his biggest purse, around €78,000, with Cordoba collecting the champion's end, about €156,000.
It is not quite clear where Cordoba, with 34 wins, one loss and two draws, actually stands in a superbantam division already laden with talent -- as another Panamanian, Celestino Caballero, is the official World Boxing Association champion.
But when Caballero won the International Boxing Federation belt in November, the Panama-based WBA in their odd wisdom promoted him to 'super' champion, and moved up their No 2, Cordoba, to 'interim' champion.
Cordoba holds a clear win over Caballero in 2004, flooring him in the process, and an Irish victory on Saturday night would leave Dunne in a very strong position to unify the WBA title. The Dubliner insists he has wiped away memories of his 86 seconds' loss to Spain's Kiko Martinez in 2007.
When the fight was signed at Christmas, Dunne forsook the pudding and the mince pies and got down immediately to serious day-by-day training in the Holy Family gym in Belfast and relentlessly pounded the hills and roads around the city.
"It's every boxer's dream to be a world champion and I'm no different," he said yesterday. "We've been looking at clips of Cordoba's fights and he's a class fighter, but I think we know what to expect. I've no intention of passing up my big opportunity."
Cordoba offered: "I haven't seen Dunne in action. I will evaluate him once the bell goes and I will win."
Cordoba must get the tip, but Dunne can pull off a spectacular win if he remains focussed on the job in hand.
But if he allows the tricky Cordoba to gain the upper hand at any stage and dominate the action, the Panamanian will take the belt home.
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