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Paddy Barnes earns stunning first career stoppage in savage scrap to win WBO Intercontinental title

This was impressive.

Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Gavan Casey reports from the SSE Arena, Belfast

PADDY BARNES SCORED the first stoppage of his fledgling professional career in a pulsating encounter with Nicaragua’s Eliecer Quezada.

‘Huracan’ entered the ring a 30-fight veteran with 21 victories, but departed having suffered just his seventh career defeat as the exciting Barnes (4-0 prior to tonight) blasted his way to the WBO Interontinental title.

The three-time Irish Olympian, in his career-toughest test to date, controlled the pace somewhat in the opening stanza, though while slightly the more active was still forced to absorb frequent barrages on behalf of his adversary.

Barnes rocked Quezada in the second with a neat combination, but it was during another assault from the South American against the ropes when Barnes, scarcely bothered, sent him crumbling to the canvas with a thunderous right hook to the lower jaw.

There was a moment’s confusion as Quezada touched down, with Barnes skimming his head with a follow-up assault and apologising immediately. Quezada rose defiantly at at the bell, with Barnes again extending the olive branch as he retreated to his own corner.

The third was a scorcher as a stung Quezada turned it into a firefight and enjoyed the better of blistering back-and-forths, taking his first round of the night, though Barnes still roused the home crowd with his own significant responses through gritted teeth.

The Belfast man was more savvy in the fourth, stalking Quezada and picking his moments to strike, one notable combination as he backed Quezada into the ropes a particular highlight until war briefly threatened to break out once more at verse’s end; Barnes put five thudding shots together only to absorb four to the face in response.

A round on, both went toe-to-toe on occasion, but despite landing the more eye-catching singular shots, Barnes, perhaps sensing he was being edged in the odd exchange in what was by then becoming a close fight, opted to step back and box at range. The lull wouldn’t last long, however.

Barnes stormed out in the sixth and again walked the far rangier Quezada backwards, but the Central American’s experience was evident; one Barnes assault against the ropes was so unsuccessful that ‘The Leprechaun’ retreated back to the centre of the ring, laughing, extending a glove of appreciation toward Quezada who met him there once more.

But Quezada’s defence would be breached permanently moments later. Barnes, who until tonight had never recorded a stoppage in four professional outings, launched a throwaway left hand upstairs before delivering a peach of a left hook to Quezada’s liver.

Down went the Nicaraguan, but this time it was patently obvious he wasn’t getting up.

Barnes improves to 5-0 (1KO) after an enthralling contest in which he impressed mightily, while still enduring some hairy moments as might be expected at this juncture of his career.

He adds the WBO Intercontinental title to his European strap, and will shoot up their world rankings as a result.

A fight prior, Dublin’s Jono Carroll won the IBF super-featherweight variant of Barnes’ new belt with an impressive stoppage of Mexico’s Humberto de Santiago. Carroll moves to 15-0 as a professional.

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