Boxing

Paddy Barnes will be back says Jamie Conlan after brutal Rosales ends world title dream

Andy Watters

THERE were only seconds left in the fourth round and when the bell went ‘clang’ Paddy Barnes should have been three rounds to one up against WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales.

“You’ve done enough Paddy,” shouted Barnes’s coach Danny Vaughan, conscious that his man was expending a lot of energy, from the corner.

Barnes looked to see out the round but the menacing Rosales sensed an opportunity, stepped in and slammed in a withering bodyshot that caught the Belfast man, who been boxing beautifully up to then, flush on the belly button.

The crowd gasped as Barnes went down in pain and when the bell did go ‘clang’ the count had just started. The bell doesn’t save the fighter and even the massed voices of fight fans at Windsor Park couldn’t get Barnes back on his feet. His world title dream is, for now, over.

Barnes set out to match 23-year-old Rosales from the opening bell and although the Nicaraguan did enough to shade the opener, ‘the Leprechaun’ out-boxed him over most of the next three rounds with nimble footwork and fast hands.

It was furious entertainment and every right hook Barnes landed was another reason to hope that he could shock the world by winning the title in only his sixth professional fight but the end came with brutal finality.

If Barnes had made it to the end of the round well ahead on points he might have settled and taken control of the fight. Then again, maybe Rosales would have caught up with him at some stage and one big shot can undo round after round of quality boxing.

Afterwards Barnes was taken away to receive medical treatment but returned to ringside to watch Carl Frampton.

“He was maybe fighting the wrong gameplan,” said MTK executive Jamie Conlan.

“He was maybe fighting at the wrong pace, fighting at your man’s pace a wee bit but he was beating him at his own game fighting on the inside or at mid-distance.

“The jab was brilliant and then he got caught up the middle – I know the feeling. I’m devastated for him. When he should have been getting out sometimes he mixed in but if it (the final bodyshot) was an inch the other way I think we’d have had a new world champion because he had the beating of that man in every department.

“He was beating him at his own game but this is boxing and one punch changes the whole thing. It was one you can’t get up from.”

At 31, Barnes decided he didn’t have time on his side and felt he had to grab his world title opportunity when it came along. Conlan is confident he’ll get another chance.

“He’ll go back and we’ll build him up to fighting fringe-level world class opponents and then look for another shot because I think the IBF title is there for the taking,” he said.

“Paddy proved tonight that he wasn’t out of his depth. He wasn’t blown away like I was by (Jerwin) Ancajas so he’s there or thereabouts, he just got caught with the perfect shot.

“He’ll be back, he’s a determined wee man and I think he’ll still be chasing his dream of being a world champion.”

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