Photos by Sumio Yamada
KIKO MARTINEZ KO1 BERNARD DUNNE
I won't be standing in front of him letting him hit me I'll be moving all the time, making him work and keeping him under pressure, keeping him thinking.
Those were Bernard Dunnes words to the Irish national broadcaster RTE prior to his European super bantamweight title defence against Spaniard Kiko Martinez in Dublin today. What happened? Dunne stood in front of the less-experienced but lethal Martinez, and he got blasted to defeat in 86 seconds.
I watched the live internet coverage on RTE a few hours ago and I am still in shock, though obviously not as shocked as Dunne himself.
In the pre-fight studio discussion, Mick Dowling, the former great Irish amateur bantamweight, expressed concern about the fight. He had been impressed when visiting the Spaniards dressing room, he said, by the powerful musculature of the challenger and also by Martinezs relaxed attitude.
Hes a real live challenger, Dowling said. Hes very, very dangerous hes like a miniature Mike Tyson.
Dowling thought that Dunne would box his way to victory but he was very concerned about the early rounds of the fight and also by Dunnes hands-low style. Those concerns were borne out by what happened. Martinez came out fast, in a crouching, crowding style, and almost before you knew it Dunne was on the floor for the first of three knockdowns.
After the first knockdown it was clear that Dunne was in big trouble. When he went down the second time, the fight was as good as over.
Referee Terry OConnor much criticised for his somewhat hasty intervention in Joe Calzaghes win over Peter Manfredo Jr. gave Dunne every chance to recover, but there was no coming back. Dunne had no legs, no defence no anything. Backed up on the ropes, all he could do was try to punch back but he was just pushing out his arms weakly and Martinez smashed through him. The earlier punches that had got Dunne going were overhand rights, but in the final assault two big left hooks knocked the Irish boxer sideways before another right hand clubbed him down to to his knees and referee OConnor jumped in, waving the finish without bothering to count.
Dunnes chin has been a concern in the past. In November, 2003, he was knocked down by a boxer with four losses in eight bouts, but he got up to win. Two years ago he was out on his feet in the last round against Yuri Voronin, a Ukrainian not known for hitting power.
Yet Dunne had boxed brilliantly when he outpointed Esham Pickering to become European champion at 122 pounds, and he had made two title defences prior to the meeting with Martinez.
I thought Dunne would win, but Martinezs unbeaten record (it seems he never lost as an amateur, either) and my one look at him on tape caused me to refer to him as a dangerous opponent in my preview. As I wrote: An unbeaten, ambitious fighter who can punch can never be underestimated. I am not sure if Dunne underestimated Martinez, but he came out almost too casually, I thought. He flicked out some jabs, threw a few punches, and then he got nailed and just went.
Of course, fighters can get caught cold, but what was alarming about Dunnes defeat was the way he fell apart. He has never looked all that strong physically but as soon as he got hit he took on a disturbingly frail look, as if even a half-decent punch would send him over and Martinez was throwing every punch with the intention of inflicting damage. As Mick Dowling said in the RTE studio post-mortem: He doesnt just want to hit you he wants the punch to go through your head.
Afterwards, Martinez said through an interpreter that before the fight his team had visited the bookmaker William Hill to bet on him winning in the first round at odds of 66/1.
The Spaniard, only 21 and having his 17th fight, looks like someone to be taken seriously in the 122-pound weight class. He was fast and intelligent as well as powerful. A one-round win is not always indicative of world-beater potential but Martinez went out and destroyed a boxer who seemed to be on his way to a world title challenge. One has to say that on this night Martinez lived up to his nickname of La Sensacion.
I wrote in the preview that Martinez would need a sensational performance to win the fight and he certainly produced one.