Paddy Barnes focuses on family after bizarre pro debut

As the man himself so aptly put it following a night of drama in Belfast: “There’s never a dull moment in a Paddy Barnes fight!”

While his professional debut ended in victory, it was a chaotic night and the three-time Olympian will now take a short break from the ring as he turns his attention to family matters before finalising plans for long-term training arrangements in Scotland and a greater ring test in the new year.

Barnes certainly doesn’t have much to learn from a review of last Saturday night’s contest anyway.

It was 2mins and 5secs into the fourth round of Barnes’ professional debut at the Titanic Centre when referee Hughie Russell Jr was forced to wave the contest off and disqualify journeyman Stefan Slavchev after the Bulgarian bizarrely hoisted Barnes up on his shoulder having continually attempted to spoil the bout by holding and grappling.

“I have a bit of mixed emotions, I’m disappointed for my fans more than myself because I didn’t get to showcase my skills,” said Barnes.

 “I’d like to show them on a big stage like this how good I am. But that eejit from Bulgaria messed that up for me!

“I was really pissed off because I was eager to perform,” continued the Belfast flyweight before adding: “But now I’m just looking forward to getting the missus home and relaxing in our own house.”

In the greater scheme of things, Slavchev’s bizarre antics were of little concern to Barnes.

The 29-year-old’s fiance Mari has been stuck was in hospital for around eight weeks due to complications prior to the birth of their second daughter, Fianna, 11 days ago and she remains there due to a subsequent illness.

So neither this contest nor his immediate ring future is the Belfast man’s primary concern right now.

“I phoned here after the fight there, she’s still sick… she’s still the same,” said Barnes on Mari, admitting that the business reality of pro boxing discouraged him from pulling out of his debut date.

“This is pro boxing, I sold a lot of tickets. I can’t just pull out of a big fight when I’m trying to build a fan-base and bring big-time boxing back to Belfast. If I’d have pulled out, sure nobody would come to any of my fights again.

“To be honest I haven’t even been thinking about boxing, not even this fight,” continued the 29-year-old. “I was so excited about my debut, but I’m just focused on getting my fiance home with the child and hopefully when they’re okay I can focus next year on titles.”

The former European amateur champion had amateur club coach Gerry Storey in his corner for his debut, but he is set to link up with Liverpool trainer Danny Vaughan, who currently coaches Belfast super-flyweight Jamie Conlan — the co-headliner of Saturday night’s Belfast bill.

“I think he [Vaughan] is going to come up to Scotland to train me and Jamie Conlan is going too, so I think it should be good,” said Barnes on his future plans. “I can’t be fighting eastern Europeans in a six-rounder anymore. It’s gonna cramp my style,” laughed the 29-year-old.

In the co-headliner, Jamie Conlan recorded a dominant eight-round points win in a keep-busy bout against Hungarian David Koos.

The undefeated super-flyweight — brother of amateur world champion Michael — expects to return to the ring next spring for an anticipated world-title eliminator. And Conlan encouraged promoter Frank Warren to return to Belfast for that next bout after a capacity crowd of around 3,500 turning out for Saturday’s bill.

“The success of tonight shows they have to come back,” said Conlan. “People were back talking about boxing in barbershops and bars.

“Frank is saying that it’s done — the WBO final eliminator — but it’s when it’s done is the thing,” said Conlan on waiting for a fight date. “I’ll be back here late February/early March… Whenever it is, myself and Paddy will be back here in Belfast.”


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