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Paddy Barnes secures pro debut win in bizarre circumstances

The referee stopped the fight in the fourth round after Stefan Slavchev lifted Barnes off his feet.

THE HISTORICAL CONNOTATIONS of fighting at the Titanic Centre appeared to inspire Stefan Slavchev to demonstrate his rescue tactics as the Bulgarian journeyman suffered a disqualification to hand Paddy Barnes his first pro win.

Three-time Olympian Barnes claimed a maiden pro victory in bizarre circumstances, while co-headliner Jamie Conlan eased to an eight-round points win in a keep-busy bout.

Paddy Barnes makes his way to the ring Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Competing in a contest scheduled for six rounds and just above the flyweight limit, Barnes was easing towards victory against his journeyman opponent, with Slavchev’s spoiling tactics being the only interruption to the Ardoyne native’s dominance during a one-sided contest.

Paddy Barnes in action against Stefan Slachev Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

The 24-year-old Bulgarian, who entered the bout with a record of 8-24-1, continually attempted to hold and grapple with Barnes and referee Hughie Russell Jr finally called a halt to the bout 2 minutes and 5 seconds into the fourth round when Slavchev astoundingly picked Barnes up on his shoulder and attempted to carry him fireman-style around the ring.

The Belfast man had claimed prior to the bout that he would unleash some pent-up aggression on his foe, having recently had to deal with the stress of his fiancé Mari being stuck in hospital following the birth of their second daughter, Fianna, due to an illness.

Paddy Barnes defeats Stefan Slachev after he was disqualified for lifting him Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Competing for the first time since his disappointing loss at the Rio Olympics, the 29-year-old tried his best to get his shots off but was regularly thwarted by Slavchev, whose efforts at grappling resulting in the pair tumbling to the ground with a clearly irritated Barnes gritting his teeth in frustration.

Worse was to come in the fourth when Slavchev opted to pick up Barnes and Russell immediately waved the fight off.

Speaking after his strange win, Barnes admitted that he had found the build-up to the bout stressful owing to his family concerns.

Paddy Barnes did declared the winner Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

“It’s been tough, I haven’t really been able to train properly, but it was an easy enough four rounds. I’m just glad to get it out of the way and I can focus on bigger things next year. I want to be fighting big names,” said Barnes, who is targeting a world-title challenge within 10 bouts.

Conlan had a slightly less eventful evening as he overcame the challenge of Hungarian David Koos, taking every round on an 80-72 scorecard.

The Belfast super-flyweight, brother of world amateur champion Michael who turns pro next year, is aiming for a world-title eliminator in 2017 so this outing was merely useful for keeping rust at bay.

The headliners were afforded fairly weak opposition as the occasion of Barnes turning pro and Conlan’s first hometown bout in over two years was enough to get the crowds out.

But the undercard was sprinkled with promising talent and featured no less than six former Irish Elite amateur champions, the majority of them now professional novices learning the paid trade against journeymen opponents.

Gary Sweeney, Seán Turner, Declan Geraghty and Con Sheehan all cruised to victory – Geraghty recording a first-round stoppage win over his Georgian opponent in just 33 seconds.

Veteran Stephen Ormond also got back to winning ways as his Czech foe, Daniel Bazo, was retired after three rounds.

The most competitive fight of the early undercard was the light-welterweight meeting of Dubliner Philip Sutcliffe Jr and Wales’ former British title challenger Chris Jenkins.

Sutcliffe, now 27 years old, is eager to get a move on with his career, which has continually been stalled by hand injuries and a lack of willing opponents for the heavy-handed Crumlin native.

He demonstrated such power when putting his Welsh foe, Chris Jenkins, down inside the first minute of their bout with a short left hook. Sutcliffe tired over the 10-round distance after his bright start but he managed to claim a 98-93 points win.

Earlier, in a BUI Celtic Nations light-welterweight title fight, Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna overcame Dubliner Seán Creagh after the latter was retired following the fifth round of a fairly one-sided bout.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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