By Robert Coster
Promoter Brian Peters had warned that Bernard Dunne would “reach the top of the game of boxing ” on Saturday night in Dublin against Ricardo Cordoba. The Irishman won the WBA Jr Featherweight title with a come-from-behind, dramatic stoppage of the talented, favored Cordoba in what may have been the greatest night of Irish boxing. Brian Peters gambled on the upset and won.
Cold, boxing logic favored the boxer from Panama: Cordoba was younger, taller, more skilled, had a higher percentage of knockouts, had fought the better crop of fighters. Dunne only had 14 KOs in 27 victories, his chin was considered suspect and he had not looked particularly impressive in his recent outings, after being blasted out in one round by Spaniard Kiko Martinez.
But Saturday night at the sold-out O2 arena the 29 year-old Irish boxer turned into a tiger. In the third round, he stunned the champion with a thunderous left hook with power never demonstrated before. Cordoba went to the canvas but being the great champion that he is, roared back and twice floored the Dublin-born Dunne in the 5th round. The fight was almost decided in that round but fate, the bell and sheer will saved Dunne from the jaws of defeat.
Dunne’s Irish heart was just unstoppable on this night. He fought back and the war continued, both men giving no quarter. At the start of the eleventh round, Cordoba was ahead on the scorecards (95-92, 96-91, 97-90) and the title seemed headed back to Panama. However, champion was exhausted and Dunne came out like a predator, sensing that he needed a knockout. Dunne battered Cordoba, floored him three times and made Ireland proud. An incredible turnabout.
The loss must be particularly devastating for Ricardo Cordoba who came so close to winning; but the Panama boxer is young (24), talented and should be able to come back.
As for Bernard Dunne, his dramatic victory is bound to be remembered as yet another epic that will enrich the history of boxing. “The title is ours, screamed Dunne after the fight, it’s totally ours.” Yes indeed, Bernard, it is.