WBA Super Bantamweight Champ Bernard Dunne will make the first defence of his World title at The O2, Dublin on Saturday 26 September when he faces number one rated contender Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.
Dunne will return to the scene of his sensational world title win in March when he took the title from Ricardo Cordoba after a six knockdown thriller at the Liffeyside venue.
The 29-year-old will face another demanding night next month as he looks to repel the challenge of Poonsawat, the man referred to as ‘Thailand’s Manny Pacquiao’ courtesy of an impressive career that has seen him win all but one of his 39 professional fights with 27 of those wins coming via KO.
The mandatory defence was ordered by the WBA in the wake of Dunne’s dramatic victory over Cordoba, but Dunne’s promoter Brian Peters remains confident that the Dubliner will enjoy a long reign as world champion.
‘Poonsawat has been waiting for a shot at the title for over 18 months now so he’s a very determined man,’ said Peters.
‘He says he has no fear coming to Dublin to take on Bernard but let’s not forget that Ricardo Cordoba said exactly the same thing. Bernard’s performance against Cordoba was absolutely sensational. The heart, conditioning, skill and power he demonstrated on the night proved once and for all that he belongs up there with the very best and the scary thing is that I believe there is still more to come from Bernard.
‘His strength and conditioning coach Mike McGurn believes that Bernard can improve three fold even on that performance so that’s a scary prospect for any fighter, even one as good as Poonsawat. Of course it’s not going to be easy because when you are a world champion everyone is gunning for you because you have what every other boxer wants but Bernard has never, ever ducked a challenge and he’s wants to meet this one head on.’
Poonsawat already holds a win over the aforementioned Cordoba, but his sole defeat came in Germany in 2006 when he lost a close decision to then WBA World Bantamweight Champion Wladimir Sidorenko. The defeat however hasn’t put the Thai off from travelling to Europe once again to try and rip the title from Dunne.
‘I’ve been waiting for this chance for a very long time but I’ve kept busy and I am very determined to finally get what I deserve,’ said the 28-year-old before predicting, ‘I believe that I will knock Dunne out inside seven rounds.’
Poonsawat watched Dunne’s thrilling victory over Cordoba but he says he’s reserving judgement on the Irishman until he steps in the ring with him.
‘I watched that fight and both Dunne and Cordoba are good boxers but I’m not sure that Cordoba was in the best of shape for that fight. I fought him before and I know that he’s not an easy guy to knock down. So either he came in to that fight in poor condition or else Dunne must be a very big puncher.
‘Clearly Dunne has a great fighting heart but I don’t see him as a very skilled boxer. He proved against Cordoba that he has a big heart and maybe he is a big puncher too but we will see what happens next month.’
Poonsawat is managed by Niwat Laosuwanwat, the man who guided the career of Thailand’s greatest ever fighter, the legendary Khaosai Galaxy. Laosuwanwat believes that he may have discovered another future Hall of Famer in the shape of Poonsawat.
‘In terms of heart and skill Poonsawat can be as good as Khaosai Galaxy and maybe even better,’ revealed Laosuwanwat.
‘Whether or not he ultimately goes on to become as big a star as him depends on a lot of outside the ring factors as well such as luck, the business of boxing and the opportunities that come his way, but in terms of his boxing he is the complete package. I think the fight with Dunne will be another great bout but I can guarantee you that Dunne will never have been in the ring with someone as strong as Poonsawat before.’
Poonsawat says he aspires to become as successful as Khaosai Galaxy and is also flattered at the comparison to Manny Pacquiao, currently universally recognised as the best pound for pound fighter in the sport.
‘I hope that I can emulate Khaosai Galaxy. He is a hero in Thailand and I think that someday I could go on to be as great as him,’ said Poonsawat.
‘In relation to Pacquiao he is an incredible fighter and I think he is a one off. Of course it would be great to go on to become as big a star as he has but first things first, I need to beat Bernard Dunne – then I can start thinking about being Thailand’s answer to Pacquiao.’
Dunne however will be looking to end any talk like that on 26 September. ‘He says I’m not the most skilful so he obviously hasn’t seen that much of me yet! I’ll be looking to use all my skill on the night and I’ve been working very, very hard again with Mike McGurn on my strength and conditioning. He’s been putting me through hell but it will be all worth it next month.
‘I worked so hard for the Cordoba fight but I’m even hungrier for this one and I’ve stepped up my training again for this fight. I’ve already been based in Belfast with Harry Hawkins for the past month and there’s another five weeks of hard work left. I’m sure he’s going to come to fight but I’ll be ready for 12 hard rounds.
'It’s going to be a hell of a night again, the atmosphere last time at the O2 was something I’ll savour for the rest of my life and I’m sure it will be just as good next month.’