Monday 22 April 2019

Boxing: Dunne set for fight of his life

Thomas Myler

DUBLIN Dynamo Bernard Dunne is not unduly worried that three US judges will be in charge of his world superbantamweight title challenge against Panamanian southpaw Ricardo Cordoba at The 02 arena in Dublin tonight.

"Would I have preferred one European judge in there? I'm not in the least bit worried where the officials are from," he said at a crowded weigh-in ceremony in a city hotel yesterday afternoon.

"They can come from where they like as far as I'm concerned and that's the way I look at it.

"Just now, my concentration has been on my opponent and nobody else. I've got a job to do in the ring and I intend to do it. That is all that matters in the long run. It's my big chance, one I've been aiming at ever since I turned professional over seven years ago.

"I learned my early apprenticeship in the US for the first two years under the great coach Freddie Roach and I'm not going to let anything or anybody put me off. I've put my loss to the Spaniard, Kiko Martinez, behind me too.

Buzzing

"I've been training hard in Belfast for the past nine weeks with my coach Harry Hawkins and the team, and I feel in great shape. I've been working with three top sparring partners, all imported and each a southpaw, so I will know what to expect. Just now I'm buzzing and I can't wait to get into the ring," added Dunne, who has 27 wins and one loss.

Cordoba, with 34 wins, one defeat and two draws, said: "I'm not worried about defending my title in Dunne's hometown. When you are the champion you must be prepared to put the belt on the line anywhere and I'm in the best shape of my career. This fight is front-page news back home and they won't want me coming back without the title, that's for sure."

Both boxers made the 8st 10lbs cut-off point, coming in at one pound under the limit, and looked very relaxed. The champion (24) remains the 1/3 favourite, with Dunne (29) the outsider at 9/4.

While most writers, including this one, fancy the Panamanian nicknamed 'El Maestrito' ('The Master') to win, if Dunne stays focused and doesn't get into too many close-quarters exchanges he could pull off a sensational victory.

"The odds don't worry me," he said. "Don't forget, I was the underdog against the Englishman Esham Pickering over two years ago, and that fight was even in Dublin, but I beat him as you know and won the European title. So where does that leave the odds? It's what happens when the bell goes that really counts."

Both boxers will spend today relaxing, with Dunne at his apartment and Cordoba in his hotel. Cordoba will be watching whatever sport is on TV, and Dunne hopes to watch "bits" of the Ireland v Wales rugby match on TV before heading for the O2. "I'm just going to chill out for the day," he said.

One happy man today is promoter Brian Peters. All 9,000 tickets have been sold for what is Ireland's first world title fight in nearly 13 years and the only time a Dubliner will have boxed for a world championship in his native city.

Doors open at 6pm and the first bout is scheduled for 6.15pm.

Bernard Dunne v Ricardo Cordoba,

Live, RTE2, 9.0

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