‘I loved every minute of it’ – Irish boxing legend Paddy Barnes retires

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Paddy Barnes has tonight announced his retirement from boxing.

Such is the competitive nature of the popular figure that most expected he’d hang them up after he suffered defeat to European flyweight champion Jay Harris last month.

It was ‘The Leprechaun’s’ third pro defeat as a pro. Post the loss he had suggested he felt he hadn’t enough left to compete at against the elite level operators anymore – and those, who know the win or nothing fighter understood that meant retirement was ominous.

Barnes was never going to fight on if a world title wasn’t attainable and thus he retired on the eve of National Elite Championships night.

Although he entertained and shot for the stars – possibly too early – in the pro ranks, the Belfast fighter will be most remembered for his amateur career.

Barnes enjoyed huge success in the amateur ranks winning bronze medals in the light flyweight division at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games and he carried the Irish flag at the opening ceremony in Rio 2016.

The charismatic puncher also claimed a gold medal at the 2010 European Championships and silver in 2013 along with Commonwealth gold in 2010 and 2014.

Indeed, Barnes is probably the one person who signifies the massive changes made in Irish amateur boxing.

The flyweight was there for when attitudes seemed to move with regard to what was possible ahead of Beijing. The serial winner was a real driving force behind the ‘we are going there to win not just to compete’ approach taken into London 2012. That attitude which was partly installed by Barnes has stayed and has helped Ireland become a genuine force in recent years, across the age groups and grades.

The were high hopes when the switch to the professional ranks was made. Indeed, Barnes had ‘quickest ever Irish fighter to a world title’ ideas.

However, it was possibly that ambition that cost him. Having accounted for the likes of Stefan Slavchev and Silviu Olteanu early on he attempted to become a world champion in just his fifth pro fight.

It backfired as he lost  Cristofer Rosales via knock-out when he fought for the WBC flyweight title at Windsor Park.

He lost a second fight in March of this year showing trade mark guts in defeat to the much bigger Oscar Mojica in New York.

The 32-year-old squeezed in a come back win and talked about dropping down to light fly, but in true Barnes fashion couldn’t resist a challenge and agreed to take on former sparring partner Harris.

The Welsh fighter managed to stop the Belfast man in his home town and that result ultimately lead to Barnes retirement.

He announced his decision to retire via twitter where he wrote: “After taking some time I’ve came to a decision to retire. I’ve had a great career and achieved so much.

“I have loved every minute of boxing, it has been my life for the past 21 years. I have achieved my dream of becoming an Olympian and getting to carry the Irish flag at the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

“Professional boxing was never a dream of mine, bit I tried and threw myself into the deep end straight away. It didn’t work out but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’d like to thank my family for supporting me throughout my entire career, my wife Mari for keeping my feet firmly on the ground and helping me towards my goals.”

We here at Irish-boxing.com would like to wish Barnes all the best in his retirement. We would like to thank him for the memories and for the time he gave us over the years.

dpg

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: [email protected]