Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Battle at the O2: Bernard Dunne vs. Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym Preview

Michael Nelson previews Saturday's super-bantamweight clash between Ireland's Bernard Dunne and Thailand's Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.

The bout will be streamed live worldwide on with the broadcast starting at 9:30 PM GMT / 4:30 EST / 1:30 PST.

While most believe that Juan Manuel Marquez' thrilling knockout over Juan Diaz in February is the runaway fight of the year thus far, there are many, including me, who see Bernard Dunne's war against Ricardo Cordoba the following month as perhaps even more scintillating. Dunne came back from being nearly knocked out in the 5th round to brutally stop the favored Panamanian in the 11th.

Don't be surprised if you see a similar level of action and drama when Dunne meets Thailand's Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym this Saturday.

Kratingdaenggym (somehow I think the commentators are just going to call him 'the Thai guy') is a relentless pressure fighter that cuts off the ring well. His battles with Somsak Sithchatchawal and Ricardo Cordoba were gems, with the 28 year old getting inside on his significantly taller opponents and ripping a variety of shots to the body and head. It's unlikely that Poonsawat has been in too many dull fights.

At 5'3 1/2, he'll be at a significant height disadvantage against the 5'8 champion from Ireland. Cordoba used his height and reach to almost defeat Kratingdaenggym in 2005 by constantly punching and turning for long stretches of the bout, reminiscent of the game plan Robert Guerrero executed against Malcolm Klassen last month. While it's not Dunne's style to enact the same strategy, he'll look to use his jab and straight right hand to keep the little bulldog at bay. When Poonsawat does make his way inside, Dunne has a strong left hook waiting for him, the same left hook that fell Cordoba on multiple occasions.

Another obstacle for the Thailand native to overcome is geography. The fight will take place in Dublin, Ireland, Bernard's hometown, which will mark only the second time in 40 fights Poonsawat has fought outside of Thailand. The only other time, a 2006 bout against Wladimir Sidorenko in Germany, resulted in his lone loss.

Still, Dunne has weaknesses that the smaller man can exploit. The 29 year old boasts a tremendous heart but his whiskers are iffy. His career got temporarily derailed when Kiko Martinez knocked him out in one round two years ago. And of course, Ricardo Cordoba badly hurt him a number of times during their war in March. Kratingdaenggym won't be mistaken as a knockout artist, but he does have a stern punch, and he has the stamina to keep his hands busy for 12 rounds. Barring Dunne scoring an early KO (and Poonsawat has a sturdy chin), he'll have to endure a good deal of punishment, particularly to the body as the challenger will have no qualms with slamming right hands into his sternum if Dunne decides to fight tall.

There's action guaranteed for however long it lasts. The big heavyweight fight in Los Angeles on the same night will get more attention, but this should serve as the tasty appetizer that may be better than the main dish.

e-mail Michael Nelson