June 12th, 2003
According to Paul Griffin new Irish featherweight sensation Bernard Dunne needs a challenge and he thinks he’s the man to provide it. Griffin has been absent from the Irish boxing scene for some time but he’s keen to return and has thrown down the gauntlet to Irish boxing’s latest star. Speaking to Wayne Higgins on 98FM Griffin laid out his plans for a return to the limelight.
The Dubliner is still based in Australia having relocated there following his defeat to Coventry’s Dean Pithie in 1998. After five wins down under Griffin suffered a stoppage defeat at the hands of Jackson Asiku in July of 2001 and he hasn’t boxed since. Now though plans are afoot to get Griffin back in the ring with a bout pencilled in for next month. That will take place in Australia but the former Olympian is keen to return home to show Irish fans that he still has plenty left to offer.
Griffin turned 32 earlier this month and if he’s honest he has never fulfilled the potential he showed in the amateur ranks. A four time National Senior champion at featherweight he also picked up Gold and Bronze medals at European championships. With pedigree like that it’s no wonder there was a scramble for his signature when he decided to join the professional ranks in 1995.
Griffin inked terms with Frank Warren and got off to a promising start chalking up a dozen wins in just over two years as a pro. He then had ten months out of the ring prior to challenging Pithie for the W.B.O. inter continental super featherweight title. After an encouraging start Griffin ran out of steam and had to be rescued by the referee in the ninth round. It was his sole defeat until he ran into Asiku in his last fight meaning that his record currently stands at seventeen wins (six by stoppage) against two defeats.
Griffin has always been a classy stylist with excellent technical skills and his challenge to Dunne is certainly an intriguing one. It’s also a local derby that would surely generate plenty of interest back in Dublin.
Whether or not Griffin is on Dunne’s agenda is another question. The Los Angeles based Neilstown man extended his 100% pro record with a seventh victory in Connecticut last weekend. Prior to the contest he told Irish-Boxing.com that he only wanted to return to Dublin to fight when he was the finished article. However there is an increasing public clamour to see pro boxing back in Dublin and there’s no doubt Dunne can prove the catalyst for that. Clearly Griffin hopes to be in the opposite corner for any Dunne homecoming but rumours persist that fellow Dubliner Willie Valentine may be a more likely candidate.
Like Griffin the Finglas man has been inactive of late. His last contest was a fourth round stoppage defeat at the hands of London based Ugandan John McKay in November 2001. That result leaves Valentine’s record at five wins and three defeats.
While at the moment any homecoming for Dunne remains a source of rumour and conjecture it has clearly awakened interest amongst his domestic rivals. And with Kevin O’ Hara making noise north of the border there could be interesting times ahead for the Irish featherweight scene.