The Swansea native was too big, too strong, and possibly too fresh for the double Olympic bronze medal winner and came out on top of an quick-fire fire-fight as a result. The clash was advertised as something of a short-cut to a second world title shot for the former amateur standout (the 10-rounder was for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental flyweight belt). However, what was an obvious gamble would not pay off for Barnes. The size difference in Harris’s favour was apparent from the opening bell, and while Barnes did start sharply he was buzzed near the end of the first round. The template for the fight was set.
The former European amateur and Commonwealth gold winner was full of heart, guts and industry in a crowd-pleasing affair, but the well supported visiting fighter just had that bit too much. That was personified in an all action third when “The Leprechaun” opened a cut over the eye of Harris, but was dropped by a body shot as the pair exchanged. The Ulsterman rose and managed to grit it out to the bell but the end would come the following round. Another body shot put the brave Barnes down and he would be counted out by referee Phil Edwards after 2-14. There were wild celebrations from the Swansea faithful and the European and Commonwealth champion’s post-fight joy reflected how much of a scalp he felt he had taken.
Post a third career defeat, Barnes’ assessment was as honest as his efforts and he went as far as to suggest he may just hang up the gloves.
Sean McComb also had to consult his heart to ensure another significant early step up was a valuable learning curve rather than a bump the road. The “Public Nuisance” had to overcome a first career trip to the canvas as well as two cuts to earn a hard fought and slightly wide 78-73 Hugh Russell Jr-scored win over aggressive Argentinian Emiliano Dominguez.
The Belfast southpaw had proved too smart for four successive tests previously but found Dominguez was no pushover. Teodolina’s “La Cobrita” pressed for all eight rounds in a fight that enthralled the Ulster Hall and forced his 27-year-old opponent to take a delayed knee after landing a skimming body shot in the fourth.
However, despite having to work for every minute of every round, McComb came out the deserved winner. He showed the superior skill and ring intelligence, while been afforded the chance to prove he had the stomach for the fight.
One of the three debutants on card, Pierce O’Leary certainly has no issue with having a fight and showed as much in his exciting four-round victory over Nicaraguan Oscar Amador.
The 19-year-old “Big Bang” was handed a tougher debut that first expected but handled the situation brilliantly. The Inner-City Dubliner fed off a raucous crowd to introduce himself to the wider boxing public via a high octane 40-36 Paul McCullough-scored win.
Another amateur teen sensation’s pro debut was equally as eye-catching, but for a different reason. The bout of Limerick’s noted stylist Paddy Donovan had nothing like the levels of action as his fellow debutant but that’s because he got the job done in 76 seconds.
The Andy Lee-trained welterweight southpaw landed a perfectly placed left hook around the guard of Arturo Lopez and the Mexican never recovered, Mr McCullough waving the clash off before completing the count.
Cigar-smoking Belfast super-bantam Ruairi Dalton also registered debut victory outpointing Nicaraguan Jose Hernandez on Mr Russell’s card.
Conrad Cummings returned after losing to Luke Keeler and since opening up about his period of ill mental health with victory over Poland’s Adam Grabiec. The Coalisland middleweight won 59-54 on Mr Russell’s scorecard after being docked a point for low blows.
Former world champion Terry Flanagan of Manchester recorded his second win of the year when Mr Russell disqualified Ghanaian Michael Ansah after 2-58 of the fourth of their eight-rounder for persistent hitting after the break.
Keady lightweight Sean Duffy won the float live on ESPN+ producing a shutout 40-36 win over experienced Nicaraguan Edwin Tellez, Mr McCullough was the lone scorer.
Undefeated prospects Gary Cully and Lewis Crocker also registered points wins on what was an entertaining and atmospheric card. Naas lightweight Cully beating Nicaraguan Danny Mendoza 60-54 while Sandy Row welter Crocker outscored Ohio Kain Iremiren of Eltham 59-56, both on Mr McCullough scorecards.
The Verdict If this does prove the end for Barnes, he’s had a great career.
Jay Harris (111 1/2lbs), 18-0 (10), w rsf 4 Paddy Barnes (111 1/2lbs), 6-3 (1); Sean McComb (141lbs), 9-0 (4), w pts 8 Emiliano Rodriguez (139lbs), 23-6 (9); Pierce O’Leary (143lbs), 1-0, w pts 4 Oscar Amador (145lbs), 10-23 (1); Terry Flanagan (139lbs), 35-2 (14), w disq 4 Michael Ansah (133lbs), 17-10-2 (11); Seanie Duffy (135lbs), 3-0 (1), w pts 4 Edwin Tellez (131lbs), 12-58-5 (6); Paddy Donovan (147lbs), 1-0 (1), w rsf 1 Arturo Lopez (144lbs), 5-14-3; Ruairi Dalton (129lbs), 1-0, w pts 4 Jose Hernandez (127lbs), 4-38-1 (3); Conrad Cummings (165lbs), 17-3-1 (7), w pts 6 Adam Grabiec (165lbs), 7-28 (1); Gary Cully (139lbs), 9-0 (4), w pts 6 Danny Mendoza (141lbs), 6-5 (4); Lewis Crocker (154lbs), 10-0 (6), w pts 6 Ohio Kain Iremiren (153lbs), 2-4-2.