Three-time Olympian and two-time bronze medalist Paddy Barnes was looking to bounce back from a knockout loss in a world title fight, but things didn’t go according to plan today in New York, as Barnes was upset by unheralded Oscar Mojica in a six-round bantamweight bout on ESPN+.
Let’s clear something up first: the ESPN+ broadcast team thought that Barnes was knocked down in the second round by a body shot. And the truth is, they were right, he was. He was hit with a clean body shot, backed up, and took a knee on the canvas. But referee Danny Schiavone did not rule a knockdown, which was clear. He waved it off when Barnes went down, didn’t count at all, and restarted the fight.
But it absolutely should have been scored a knockdown. It was a clean blow and Barnes went down because of it. There was no shove or anything, it really wasn’t even confusing or questionable. Schiavone blew the call.
That means, however, that what should have been a 10-8 second round for Mojica could easily have wound up scored 10-9 for Barnes, who roared back after he got to his feet. And that’s a big swing.
The judges wound up with a split decision, scoring it 58-56 each, two for Mojica, and one for Barnes. BLH had it 58-56 for Barnes without the knockdown being scored as it should have been, but it would have been a 57-56 Mojica card for us had the knockdown been called. In the end, the right guy got the nod, but it was all kind of a mess.
Mojica (12-5-1, 1 KO) broke Barnes’ nose in the first 10 seconds of the fight, connecting on a stiff shot that resulted in blood just pouring from the Belfast native’s nose for the rest of the bout, covering the Top Rank logo at mid-ring in a giant splatter of red. As a 5’7”, legitimate bantamweight, Mojica had a big natural size advantage over Barnes, who is 5’4” and a natural flyweight.
But Mojica was still the clear underdog going in, and has no illusions about how the power game works in boxing, either.
“I’m not tied to a promoter or anything, so I have to work twice as hard every round to win,” Mojica said after the fight. The 26-year-old from Dallas might be someone to keep an eye on — every now and again, a fighter starts their career without building up some coddled, sparkling record, but they learn on the job and wind up becoming serious fighters.
As for the 31-year-old Barnes (5-2, 1 KO), he kept the fight competitive to our eyes — and those of the judges — on activity and determination. But Barnes himself said after the fight that he felt there was zero controversy.
“I don’t know how they had it close,” Barnes said. “I thought he won every round.”
Barnes noted that he had, in fact, gotten his nose broken early, and seemed well aware that the non-knockdown in the second round was, in fact, a knockdown. He also said that Mojica was simply too big.
Barnes also said that he will “probably” retire, telling ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, “I strongly think this is it.” He could change his mind and try to rebuild as a flyweight, but in all honesty, he was past his best days when he competed at the 2016 Olympics. Having won bronze in 2008 and 2012, he was out in the round of 16 in Rio.
If he does hang it up, it’s true that his pro career didn’t go as he might have wanted, but he gave it a shot. He fought for a world title, and gave his all in this fight despite being damaged almost immediately. He’s had a boxing career to be genuinely proud of — there aren’t many who can say they fought at three Olympics, let alone won two medals.