Boxing

Scales beat Paddy Barnes not Samuel Carmona: Hugh Russell

Paddy Barnes is on the receiving end of a blow from Samuel Carmona during Monday's bout in Rio
 
Andy Watters

HUGH RUSSELL says the scales beat his Holy Family clubmate Paddy Barnes, not Spain’s Samuel Carmona.

A sluggish Barnes bowed out after a shock split-decision loss to Carmona in his light-flyweight opener on Monday and the defeat ended his dreams of adding an Olympic Games gold to the bronze medals he’d won at Beijing and London.

Russell, who took bronze at the 1980 Games in Moscow, says 29-year-old Barnes gambled he could be effective at the 49kg light-fly limit, but lost. He made the weight, but boiling himself down to 7st 10oz robbed the 29 year-old of his energy.

“He made the weight,” Russell pointed out.

“It’s a gamble, the Olympic Games come along every four years and light-fly is the weight that Paddy Barnes is strongest at. He had a gamble at it that didn’t work out. He was very good when he got beat and he admitted that right away - he won’t be there again but, when he qualified, it was 14 months away from the start of the games and 14 months at his age can be massive. He never boxed at 49kg within that 14 months - Paddy Barnes was beat by the scales rather than anybody else.”

Barnes’ previous contest before his Olympic Games opener was at a multi-nations tournament in Lithuania in March, when he won a gold medal. He qualified for the games by winning seven consecutive contests for World Series of Boxing Italia Thunder, but it has since emerged the franchise was forced to pay a number of fines during the WSB campaign because Barnes was unable to get down to the 49kg limit.

Olympic boxing medallists Hugh Russell and Wayne McCullough reminisce about their time at the Olympics

He managed to do it on Monday and, had he been drawn in an afternoon or evening contest, he might have been able to refuel and muster the energy to force a win - but he was drawn and lifeless for the morning bout.

“I watched the fight and people were saying he wasn’t fit, but to be 7st 10oz, Paddy Barnes had to be fit, he had to be fit,” said Russell.

“He was fit, but he was empty - he had nothing left. When he qualified at light-fly, the decision was made and he had to live with it. It didn’t work out but, if it had of worked out, it would have been the best decision he ever made. If he’d got through and got a medal, it would have been brilliant. It’s okay being wise after the event, it didn’t work, but it was worth a try.”

Russell added: “Olympic medals are won by the toss of a coin, it’s hundredths of a second. In other sports, you win a medal because you’re a hundredth of a second better than everybody else, in boxing it might be that you go in at the right weight.

“Like the rest of them, Paddy is an athlete and he’s a grown man. He made a decision that he couldn’t go back on - it didn’t work out for him but, when he got beat, he didn’t make any excuses, he said he made the wrong decision and that’s what it was.”

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