Olympic and Commonwealth Games boxing star Paddy Barnes has been forced to withdraw from this month’s European Championship defence in Turkey.
Results of an MRI scan on an injured wrist resulted in the north-Belfast man’s withdrawal just hours before the Irish team left Dublin on Saturday (June 11) for Ankara in Turkey, where the championships are being staged.
The reigning European light-flyweight champ said he was “absolutely gutted” but added that the right decision had been made in the interests of the forth-coming World Championships in September and Olympic Games qualification for London 2012.
He said: “I feel goof and I am fit, but the injury to my wrist has not entirely responded to treatment and the advice I have been given is in my best interests. I am absolutely gutted that I will not be there to defend my title but it was simply not worth the risk.”
Ireland’s head coach Billy Walsh said: “Paddy was eagerly looking forward to defending his title in Turkey but the injury has prevented him from doing that.
“It’s a big blow to the Irish squad as we have lost a European champion to injury. The important thing now is that Paddy gets back to full fitness for the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Baku next September and October.”
Barnes, 24, defeated Azerbaijan’s Elvin Mamishzade 4-1 in last June’s final in Moscow. Following that he lifted Gold in the Commonwealth Games in October 2010.
He was hoping to become the first Northern Ireland man to retain a European belt after becoming the first from the north to win Gold.