Dunne content as he calls time on remarkable career

Sat, Feb 20, 2010, 00:00

BOXING NEWS: EIGHT YEARS a professional. A European title. A world title. Eight years and finally the Bernard Dunne wind that blew through Irish boxing, kick-started a renaissance in the professional game around Dublin, drew full houses to the old Point Depot and into the corridors of the National Stadium, has blown out.

Dunne’s career, crowned with a WBA world super bantamweight title when he defeated Ricardo Cordoba last March in one of the best bouts seen anywhere in the world, came to a natural, logical and rigorously thought-out conclusion yesterday.

The Neilstown fighter, after several months of considering “all the cards on the table” retired. Life will now be outside the ring not inside. There will be no dramatic twilight comebacks, no hankering for the lifestyle. Dunne, last night in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin, didn’t waver.

“It has been an incredible journey. I had all that support following me to a world title. I didn’t want them now to pay hard-earned cash watching me just go through the motions,” he said.

“I’m content with my decision. I looked at all the options. It’s about the want. I don’t need it any more. I’ve put 25 years in.

“Thankfully I’ve still some brain cells in my head. My health was never an issue but I did not want to be one of those 35- or 36-year-old fighters chasing the dream. I fulfilled my dream. Winning in the amateurs. Winning the European title. Winning the World title in front of my home crowd. That’s what dreams are made of. I regret nothing. I loved my career, loved boxing. It’s been a great trip for us, but I’d like to think I’m clever enough to say enough is enough.”

The closing of the book comes in the wake of Dunne’s defeat in his first defence of the title he won from Cordoba. A squat Thai fight named Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, arrived in Dublin and over three rounds gave the Dubliner a lesson in aggression, power and pain. This is what it would be like from here on.

This was the level Dunne had reached and in Cordoba and Poonsawat, he had probably learned a life’s lesson over just two bloody and hurtful bouts. In that Dunne was lucky.

Having turned 30 earlier this month, he might still have had a few lucrative years if carefully managed by his promoter Brian Peters.

Still ranked in the top 10, he could have carved out some decent purses, muddied the water enough to make us believe again that he was still a world title contender. But over the course of the months since Poonsawat’s carnage in the Point in September, Dunne and his trainer, Harry Hawkins, were able to look beyond the ring.

“I do believe he has made the right decision,” said Hawkins. “In this game you need to have the hunger. You’ve guys from Thailand, South America fighting for their breakfasts. Bernard is wealthy and healthy and that’s important.”

Dunne may have reflected for the last five months through the prism of his wife Pamela and two young children. But he did not lose his sense of humour. “I think 50 per cent of the Irish people had tuned into that fight (against Cordoba),” he said. “There’s a lot of bloodthirsty people out there.”

The Cordoba fight was his greatest moment. Having initially sowed some seeds of doubt after a first round knock-out by Spanish puncher Kiko Martinez in an earlier European title defence, Dunne returned to lift himself off the canvas twice against the Panamanian for the world title.

Barely able to hold himself up he found the strength to knock out his opponent in the 11th round.

“I wasn’t a journeyman. I went out on a world title,” he said. “The worst I could have done now is go through the motions. I think I’ve made the tough decision.”

RTÉ, a book and helping kids live healthy lives lie ahead of him now.