Dragon Champ – Joe Fitzpatrick claims bloody stoppage title win

Joe Fitzpatrick claimed the first title of his career tonight following a firefight in Belfast.

‘The Dragon’ topped the Boxing Ireland Promotions ‘Celtic Clash 9’ bill at the Devenish Venue and defeated Iago Barros to pick up the BUI Celtic lightweight title in front of a raucous home support .

Following four furious rounds in West Belfast, Barros would retire and Fitzpatrick, having been made to work more than any fight previous, had his breakthrough win.

The 24-year-old has revitalised his career in recent months. Having linked up with Dennis Morrison and Boxing Ireland, the Divis southpaw headlined his first show in May where he defeated Westie rival Stephen Webb.

Returning to the same venue and move up to eight rounds for the first time, it was something new for Fitzpatrick but the Commonwealth silver medallist made the step up with minimal fuss.

Tough Galician Barros, a veteran of over 200 pro fights across MMA, kickboxing, and boxing, sported a journeyman’s record but boasted the aggressive approach of a title challenger.

The 36-year-old has caused a number of upsets in boxing over the year and was no stranger to Irish shores having been edged by Martin Quinn in Dublin in December 2017. Many felt Barros did enough to win or draw this bout but there was no doubting tonight’s result.

Almost immediately after the first bell there was a prolonged pause as Barros had his lace tied and the Spaniard would come tearing out of the blocks afterwards. Sizing his swinging opponent up, Fitzpatrick landed some nice long lefts which outshone the clubbing blows of Barros.

The aggression from Barros continued in the second and he did land one big leaping right but, following this warning, Fitzpatrick would make him miss and land volleys of stinging shots in return.

Cornering Barros in the third, ‘Fitzy’ looked to be taking control but the Iberian would keep swinging in return. A dipping head and a major height difference saw Fitzpatrick cut outside of the left eye.

The heads would again be an issue in the fourth as Barros was deducted a point for a headbutt out of a clinch. The visitor would claim that he was merely trying to free himself and the collision of craniums was accidental but referee Padraig Ó Reachtagáin, and everybody in attendance, was not convinced.

Responding, Fitzpatrick would throw volley after volley, his fast hands impressing, while Barros landed heavy single shots in return.

‘El Pitbull’ was not happy returning to the corner at the break, taking a seat for the first time, and speaking animatedly with his team. Barros would signal ‘no más’ to the referee and the towel would come in, awarding Fitzpatrick a fifth-round TKO victory and his first belt.

BUI Celtic champion and now sporting a tasty 10(6)-0 record, Fitzpatrick will be targeting the Irish title and the BBBoC Celtic equivalent.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@thefIrish)

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie