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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019
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'He could have f**king paralysed me when he wrestled me to the ground'

Paddy Barnes won his first professional fight via a fourth-round disqualification over Bulgarian Stefan Slavchev.

Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

DESPITE HIS PROFESSIONAL debut descending into a WWE style spectacle, Paddy Barnes admitted that he was relieved to get his first paid contest out of the way in Belfast on Saturday night.

The three-time Olympian recorded a fourth-round disqualification win over journeyman opponent Stefan Slavchev after the Bulgarian bizarrely hoisted Barnes up on his shoulder having continually attempted to spoil the bout by holding and grappling.

A visibly irritated Barnes remonstrated with Slavchev after referee Hughie Russell Jr rightly called a halt to the contest following the 23-year-old’s strange antics.

“Yeah, because he was over talking to the referee and I don’t know what he was talking to the referee for,” explained Barnes. “He was acting the c**t so if he loses his temper at the referee I’ll lose my temper at him because he could have fucking paralysed me when he wrestled me to the ground,” added the 29-year-old Belfast flyweight.

Having said all that, Barnes eventually laughed off the incident and when questioned on whether he had ever experienced an opponent adopting similar tactics, Barnes laughed: “No, but I’ve done it to somebody else… Evan Metcalfe!

“If you YouTube it, it’s ‘Paddy Barnes WWE style’,” added Barnes, referring to his 2013 exhibition bout against Crumlin boxer Metcalfe on the undercard of Katie Taylor’s headline appearances at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – although that grappling tussle was not quite as odd as Slavchev’s effort at a fireman’s carry.

Source: IrishCulturalVideos/YouTube

“Even though I’m disappointed and I wasn’t able to show the fans my true potential, I’m glad I just got in there and made my debut,” continued Barnes, having dominated the scrappy bout.

The 29-year-old had a stressful build-up to the contest as his fiancé Mari has been stuck in hospital due to illness after giving birth to the couple’s second daughter, Fianna.

“To be honest I haven’t even been thinking about boxing, not even this fight,” admitted Barnes. “I was so excited about my debut, but I’m just focused on getting my fiancé home with the child and hopefully when they’re okay I can focus next year on titles,” added the two-time Olympic medallist.

In the co-headliner, Jamie Conlan coasted through a keep-busy bout against Hungarian David Koos ahead of an anticipated world-title eliminator next year.

The Belfast super-flyweight – brother of amateur world champion Michael – expects to return to the ring next spring.

And with a capacity crowd of around 3,500 turning out for Saturday’s Belfast bill, Conlan is confident that bigger fights nights are in store.

“I’m getting stopped on the street and it’s like big-time boxing is back even though there’s no big-time fight on the card,” said Conlan. “They announced the show with me and Paddy with no opponents and look how well it’s done. What’s going to happen when and myself fight for titles on big nights?”

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Ciarán Gallagher

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