Dunnett Wants To Down Cooper To End Latest Trend
Wallaby Quade Cooper is offside again with a rival, this time with hardened fighter Barry Dunnett ahead of their bout in Brisbane next month.
Quade Cooper again has a big target on his back.
This time it hasn't been painted there by Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby fans or Australian Rugby Union officials but by unheralded fighter Barry Dunnett who has vowed to knock him out on behalf of the grass-roots boxing fraternity.
Dunnett and fellow pugilists have had enough of professional athletes dabbling in boxing for more publicity and dollars, and wants to end the trend against Cooper on February 8 in Brisbane.
"I think all the fighting community gets a bit annoyed at athletes wanting to switch codes and call themselves a triple-pro or something like that," Dunnett said on Friday.
"It's frustrating; it takes away the money from the guys who have been doing it all their life."
Asked whether he's harbouring more venom due to Cooper's rugby union background, the fit and confident 32-year-old veteran of 15 Muay Thai boxing bouts was resolute.
"Definitely - everyone in the boxing community is behind me," he said. "They want me to put an end to the footballer-turned-fighter."
But, like he said when Kiwi fans booed him as 'Public Enemy No.1' during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the Wallabies five-eighth wouldn't have it any other way.
Cooper never once thought about choosing a powder-puff or stooge to line up against for the cruiserweight bout.
"I didn't want to disrespect the sport at all," he said. "(I want to) show everyone that I'm serious about the cause.
"I don't want to make it a roadshow. I want to have a decent fight.
"I want to improve. I want to get something out of it. I don't want it to be a glorified sparring session."
Cooper's trainer Shannon King certainly knows the 38-Test Queensland playmaker will be in for a tough night in his pro-boxing debut considering Dunnett defeated promising amateur Jason Steward over four rounds in 2010.
A motor vehicle insurance assessor, Dunnett showed he meant business after fronting for a stare-down, which a nervous Cooper admitted was confronting and awkward, at the Kangaroo Point cliffs.
"He might be a great athlete and a good footy player but it's not going to help you in the boxing ring," said the $4 underdog. "There's no one to pass the ball to.
"He's going to find himself start doubting himself, struggling to get around the ring.
"It's nothing new to me."
Cooper is among the biggest and most controversial names in rugby union, especially after being fined $40,000 by the ARU last year for branding the Wallabies environment toxic, but Dunnett - a former league junior in Brisbane and Melbourne - said he "barely knew of him".
While he's elusive on the rugby field, Dunnett felt Cooper's footwork could be an issue for him, as well as his ability to take a punch.
"The body-on-body impact in rugby is a lot different than getting punched in the face," he said.
"You'll be doubting yourself a whole lot more when they're coming quick and hard at you."