Three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes had shown a vulnerability to body shots in two previous pro losses, and Jay Harris and his team knew it.
Harris (17-0, 11 KO) went after the always game and brave Barnes (6-3, 1 KO) early and often, and put him away in the fourth round to win a regional IBF flyweight title and put himself in line for a possible world title shot as soon as next year. Harris also holds the European flyweight title, which was not on the line in this fight.
Harris, 29, was just bigger, stronger, and younger than Barnes, but the Belfast native Barnes gave everything he had to offer in his hometown, perhaps for the final time as a pro.
Barnes, 32, was wobbled in the first round, but came back firing, and kept trading along with Harris as much as he could. Harris caught him with a vicious body shot in the third round, dropping Barnes, but Paddy got up, and from there, you could see his body trying to give out every time Harris landed to the midsection, and Barnes just willed himself on.
But Harris landed to the body again in the fourth, followed by a right to the head, and Barnes was down once more. This time, he stayed on the canvas, taking the full 10 count.
“On top of the world. Absolutely ecstatic,” Harris said after the fight. “He said it was gonna be do or die, so he was coming out to knock my head off, but I give it back as good as I get.”
Barnes had previously announced a retirement earlier this year, after losing on St. Patrick’s Day to Oscar Mojica, which was a fight at a catchweight north of bantamweight, clearly too much for Barnes. He came back in August to give it another shot, and took a real crack here against Harris, a rising contender at 112. Despite his best efforts, Barnes just didn’t have the firepower to keep pace with Harris, nor the defense to keep him at bay.
If Barnes does wind up hanging the gloves up for real this time, he’ll go down with having had a hell of a career in boxing. His pro career hasn’t panned out as he might have hoped, but even still, he has always been entertaining to watch. His amateur accomplishments were the real deal, and the bottom line is he’s a pure fighter, right down to the bone.
Sean McComb PTS-8 Emiliano Rodriguez
Referee Hugh Russell scored this 79-73 for McComb, but just for a fact, this was a much more competitive fight than that would lead one to believe if you didn’t see the fight. McComb (9-0, 4 KO) is a solid prospect at 140, tall for the weight and a southpaw, has a herky-jerky, wide-stanced kind of style, can box and isn’t afraid to mix it up. I like watching him, but I had the impression he was due for one like this, and we got it. Rodriguez (23-6, 9 KO) was scrappy as hell and McComb was cut in the first round and down on a body shot in the fourth, but he bit down and fought his ass off in retaliation, too. It was a really good fight at this level, and Belfast gave it the response the fighters deserved.
“I enjoy a fight, and this is learning for me,” McComb said after the fight. “I have to learn my trade as a boxer — close boxing, middle distance, moving my head. I have to learn this craft before I get to the top level, and this is part of it.”
Pierce O’Leary PTS-4 Oscar Amador
Pro debut for the Dublin native O’Leary, who will settle in at 140 when he gets serious, it would seem, at least early on. He boxed nicely here, and Amador (10-23, 1 KO) did the pro opponent job — he tried, but was outclassed, as is generally the case.
Terry Flanagan DQ-4 Michael Ansah
Flanagan, a former 135-pound titleholder, gets a kinda crap win here over Ansah (17-10-2, 11 KO), who was warned repeatedly, had a point taken for hitting on the break in the third, and was DQ’d after doing the same in the fourth. Flanagan (35-2, 14 KO) tried to be as sporting as possible about it after the fight, while Ansah complained a lot. Flanagan was the much bigger man in the ring, which wasn’t just being notably taller and Ansah being a natural super featherweight, but Flanagan weighed in at 139 for this fight with Ansah at 135 on the TV, 133 according to BoxRec.
Seanie Duffy PTS-4 Edwin Tellez
This was the show’s swing fight, which got in due to the fast finish of the opening bout. Duffy (3-0, 1 KO) looked a competent boxer. He’s a rookie fighter from Keady, Northern Ireland, turned pro in May and has stayed busy. Here he was too good for Tellez (12-58-5, 6 KO), who did his usual job going a few rounds without being a real threat, taking his 25th straight loss.
Paddy Donovan KO-1 Arturo Lopez
This was Donovan’s pro debut, and the 20-year-old Irish welterweight made it quick. Lopez took a hard flat back bump on the first left hand that landed toward his head, seemingly mostly off the glove, but hey, I’m not the one Donovan was punching near. I mean it is what it is. Lopez, 23, drops to 5-14-3 (0 KO). Donovan has a Top Rank deal and is a legit prospect, so remember the name.