Bernard Dunne became the new WBA Super-Bantamweight World Champion at the O2 Arena in Dublin in the early hours of Sunday morning as he defeated Ricardo Cordoba with an eleventh round knock-out, writes RTÉ Sport’s Ed Leahy .
In what was one of the greatest fights ever to be fought on Irish soil, the Neilstown boxer knocked the champion down four times before the referee eventually called a halt to the contest in the penultimate round.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the former European champion as Dunne himself was sent crashing to the canvas twice in a hectic fifth round.
The last time Bernard Dunne fought on the banks of the River Liffey in August 2007 the surroundings were a lot different.
And while the Point Depot has morphed into the O2 arena, the Neilstown boxer was virtually unrecognisable from the man who was knocked out in the first round of a European title defence by Kiko Martinez.
Dunne would have been delighted to have got through the first round at this location, and he eased through it as the fight opened slowly with both fighters taking a patient approach.
In the second round, Dunne started to show his class as he tried to open up Cordoba, but the champion also looked in great shape keeping Dunne at a safe distance.
Dunne did, however, hit the canvas midway through the round but it was deemed a slip by the referee.
The fight exploded into life in the third with Dunne knocking the champion down with a ferocious left hook midway through the round.
In fact, Dunne had a chance to finish the fight before Cordoba went down as the champion travelled the width of the ring before falling.
Dunne was going back after the connecting punch and didn’t get forward in time to land a combination before Cordoba went down.
The fourth round was marred by a bad clash of heads, with Dunne coming off the worse for wear with a badly split forehead.
And whether or not Dunne was badly shaken by the clash, it was hard to tell, but in the following round he was dropped twice with a couple of cracking shots by the champion.
Dunne showed good experience using the two counts to regain a bit of composure but he still had to fight for his life for well over a minute to get to the bell and survive.
Round six and seven were recovery rounds for Dunne as he felt his way back into the fight and the contest.
By the eighth round, Dunne looked sharp and rejuvenated and while Cordoba was still looking dangerous, Dunne was matching the champion and finished the round stronger.
And Dunne was back on top in the ninth round landing a couple of great punches that shook the champion.
Round ten was three minutes of pulsating pugilism at its best with Cordoba coming back into the fight only to be matched by Dunne who again finished the round stronger with a couple of great shots knocking the wind out of Cordoba’s sails.
And so it proved in what was to be the final round of a great boxing match. Cordoba was out on his feet and while Dunne looked equally exhausted, it was the Irish man who maintained his accuracy to send Cordoba crashing early in the round.
Cordoba got up a bit too quickly and did the same a few moments later when he went down for the second time. The champion tried his best to get through the round but Dunne landed another just before time and the ref called it quits before Cordoba had hit the canvas for the third time.
The crowd were ecstatic as Dunne celebrated his victory, taking time to check on his prone opponent who was not moving while being attended to by the medics.
In fact, Cordoba had to be stretchered out of the ring, although it was reported shortly afterwards that he was out of danger en route to hospital.
Dunne was enjoying his time in the packed ring as he received the belt and basked in the glory of the crowd and announced that the world title was not just for himself but for the whole of Ireland.
Earlier, Andy Lee added another victory to his resume after beating German Alex Sibos on points after a tough ten round contest.
Lee had his right eye cut in the first round but dropped his opponent in the sixth and, in the end, won comfortably 99-91, Lee winning all but one round.
And Irish boxing fans got entertained by world champion Katie Taylor in an exhibition fight with American champion Caroline Barry.
Taylor stormed into a 6-0 lead in the first round and went through the four rounds in style to record a facile victory in what was a very entertaining, hard-hitting encounter.
Cavan boxer Andy Murray won the European Union Lightweight title, defeating Daniel Rasilla on points, while Paddy Barnes was also in action, easily winning his exhibition fight.