DUBLIN, Ireland (October 10, 2005) – Bernard Dunne has been hit with a late change of opponent ahead of Friday night’s world title fight at the National Stadium in Dublin. The undefeated Dubliner was due to clash with former British and European champion Noel Wilders but the Yorkshire man has decided to withdraw from the bout. Wilders has been replaced by fellow southpaw and stable mate Sean Hughes.

Wilders manager, Michael Marsden, gave the reasons for his charges late pull out.

“Preparations just did not go well for Noel,” admitted Marsden. “It was a great opportunity for him but he’s been struggling with some niggling injuries and was having problems making the weight. He just hasn’t looked sharp enough in training either and although he was contemplating going through with the fight I told him that Dunne was far too dangerous an opponent to be meeting at anything less than 100%.

“Noel needs to sit down and really think about the future now. He’s had a great career, winning the British, European and IBO titles, so if he was to retire he could look back on his career with pride. He’s bitterly disappointed over having to pullout but he was missing that spark you need so I think it’s the right decision.”

Fortunately promoter Brian Peters hasn’t had to look to far for a replacement with Wilders stable mate Sean Hughes chomping at the bit to get at Dunne.

“As soon as Noel made the decision to pull out Sean was asking me could he step in for him”, said Marsden who manages both men. “He’s been in training for an English super bantamweight title shot so this is a perfect opportunity for him and one he’s determined to take. He’s been looking very good in the gym recently and the chance to take on Dunne for the IBC title is one he’s relishing.”

While Brian Peters is delighted at being able to secure a quality alternative for Dunne so quickly, he admits that the late change in opponent could pose problems for Dunne.

“It’s never ideal but these things happen in boxing and you have to be prepared for them. Bernard was fully focused on Wilders but he’ll need to set his sights on Sean Hughes now.”

“When I was told Wilders had pulled out obviously it was a concern,” Peters continued, “but in Hughes I’ve managed to secure a quality replacement for Bernard. He’s a southpaw like Wilders, but at 23 he’s younger probably far hungrier than Wilders at this point in his career. He was a British Central Area champion and has already fought for the British and English titles so he’s comfortable at title level. However I don’t think he’ll have experienced anything like the atmosphere Bernard’s fights generate at the National Stadium. It really is something else.”

Peters is only too well aware that late substitute opponents are renowned for spoiling the best laid plans. “I have big plans for Bernard but he will have to be careful on Friday night because a hungry fighter is a very dangerous fighter and I’m told Hughes was desperate to step in for Wilders.

“Bernard’s preparations have been spot on though so I know he can do the business and secure the IBC title.”

Friday night’s card will be the first time that two Dubliners have fought for world titles on the same night. While Dunne and Hughes will go head-to-head for the vacant IBC super bantamweight title, Jim Rock will look to avenge his 2003 defeat to Alan Jones and pick up the IBC middleweight crown.

The show is already sold-out but RTE will carry live coverage of both title fights starting on RTE 2 at 10.30. The bill features some of the finest talent in Irish Boxing with Belfast’s world-rated super middleweight Brian Magee a special attraction.

The card also features former European amateur champion Paul Griffin, undefeated prospect Paul Hyland and the Irish debut of U.S. based Dubliner, Oisin Fagan. Lurgan light welterweight Stephen Haughian completes the line-up.

The full card is as follows:

Bernard Dunne vs. Sean Hughes – IBC Super Bantamweight Title

Jim Rock vs. Alan Jones – IBC Middleweight Title

Brian Magee vs. Varuzhan Davtyan

Paul Griffin vs. John Bothwell

Oisin Fagan vs. Richard Scifo

Paul Hyland vs. Peter Feher

Stephen Haughian vs. Daniel Thorpe

The weigh-in takes place this Thursday, October 13th, at the Burlington Hotel from 3.30.