26 September 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Bernard Dunnes WBA super-bantamweight title reign was brought to a shockingly premature end at The O2 in Dublin on Saturday night, the hometown favourite suffering a brutal stoppage defeat by Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.
In his first outing as champion, just six months on from claiming the strap with an epic victory over Ricardo Cordoba, Dunne was floored three times in the third round of a fight which evoked memories of his only other previous defeat in the paid ranks, against Kiko Martinez just over two years ago.
Dunne had actually started the bout quite impressively and had probably edged the opening two rounds after boxing smartly on the outside, just as he had promised to do on account of his obvious height and reach advantages, as well as his wariness of his Thai opponents punching power. Dunne’s jab was working well and he was connecting regularly with short, sharp left hooks to the side of the head and the body.
However, there had been evidence in the second that Kratingdaenggym had been warming to his challenge. He was enjoying greater success in tempting Dunne into trading with him on the inside and that policy reaped incredible dividends in the very next stanza.
Kratingdaenggym forced the issue from the off, boring forward relentlessly before connecting with a left hand just over a minute into the third round which completely changed the course of the fight, Dunne ending up chest down on the floor after being stunned by a perfectly-executed punch. The champion rose to his feet and went into survival mode, doing his best to keep Kratingdaenggym at arm’s length.
‘Thailand’s Manny Pacquiao’, though, was not about to allow Dunne off the hook and he dropped the Dubliner again with another powerful left hook with just over 30 seconds of the round remaining.
Again Dunne again managed to beat the count and was allowed to continue. Hope remained amongst a clearly shocked O2 crowd that if their man could see out the round he might be able to regroup, just as he had done against Cordoba when he recovered from two knockdowns in the fifth to go on to win via an 11th-round stoppage.
However, there was to be no escape this time around and after making the mistake of going toe-to-toe with Kratingdaenggym he crumpled to the canvas for a third time moments later. Dunne had been beaten his first defence.
A clearly dazed Dunne was required oxygen immediately after the bout but in an emotional post-fight interview he vowed to bounce back after apologising profusely for letting his fans down.
Certainly, as this was only his second ever defeat, there would appear to be no reason why he cannot. Indeed, there were many who felt his career was over after the first-round stoppage defeat at the heavy hands of Martinez and he responded magnificently, winning three fights in a row before realising his world title dream by bettering Cordoba on a night which has already entered into Irish sporting legend.
However, after being on the wrong end of another brutal loss there will be many who will feel that Dunnes time has now come and past.
It is now up to him to prove them wrong.