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Paddy Barnes retires from boxing

Paddy Barnes with his bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics Paddy Barnes with his bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics
2016 Rio Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 5/8/2016
Irish boxers at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy 2016 Rio Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 5/8/2016 Irish boxers at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
By David Mohan

IT’S farewell to one of Ireland’s sporting greats as Paddy Barnes confirmed his retirement from boxing last night (Thursday).

The 32 year-old North Belfast man made the decision after a period of reflection following his defeat to Jay Harris at the Ulster Hall last month, but it’s in the amateur ranks where Barnes wrote his name into the annals of Irish sporting history.

Boxing out of Holy Family under the tutelage of Gerry Storey, Barnes shot to prominence at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he took bronze and formed part of a huge revival in Irish boxing where podium places at major championships became the barometer of success.

He repeated the feat at the 2012 London Games when again, his nemesis Zou Shiming was to prevent further progress, but a second medal ensured he became just the second Irish athlete to medal at consecutive Olympics.

There was European gold and silver in 2010 and 2013 respectively, while the light-flyweight also collected gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Making that light-flyweight limit was to prove his undoing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but not before he led the Irish team out at the opening ceremony as the first to compete at three consecutive Games.

After an incredibly successful career in the vest, Barnes targeted professional success and made his debut in November 2016 when he was awarded a disqualification win after Stefan Slavchev inexplicably lifted him over his shoulder.

He would record four further victories, collecting WBO Inter-Continental and European titles along the way before he attempted to create another piece of history by becoming Ireland’s fastest-ever professional champion when challenging Cristofer Rosales for the WBC flyweight title at Windsor Park in August 2018.

After a hugely competitive opening, Barnes was to be undone with a body shot in the fourth round that ended his challenge and was to be a prelude of things to come.

Another loss came in New York on St Patrick’s Day when taking on the much bigger Oscar Mojica and while he did bounce back with a victory at the Falls Park in August, his attempt to claim the IBF Inter-Continental title last month against Harris also came apart when shots to the body again proved his undoing.

After that defeat, Barnes said he would consider his future and last night (Thursday) he confirmed in a statement it is time for a new chapter.

“After taking some time, I’ve come to a decision to retire,” it read.

“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 achieved my dream of becoming an Olympian and carrying the Irish flag at the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony. Those moments were the prodest of my career.

“Professional boxing was never a dream of mine but I tried and threw myself into the deep end straight away. It didn’t work out but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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