Watch: Bizarre moment Paddy Barnes' opponent is disqualified for hoisting Irishman on his shoulders
Paddy Barnes has won his first professional fight in bizarre circumstances after his Bulgarian opponent, Stefan Slavchev, was disqualified in the fourth round of their bout in Belfast.
Three-time Olympian Barnes was easing towards victory against his journeyman opponent at the Titanic Centre, with Slavchev’s spoiling tactics being the only interruption to the Belfast native’s dominance during a one-sided contest.
Speaking after his strange win, Barnes admitted that he had found the build-up to the bout stressful owing to his family concerns.
“It’s been tough, I haven’t really been able to train properly, but it was an easy enough four rounds. I’m just glad to get it out of the way and I can focus on bigger things next year. I want to be fighting big names,” said Barnes, who is targeting a world-title challenge within 10 bouts.
The 24-year-old Bulgarian, who entered the bout with a record of 8-24-1, continually attempted to hold and grapple with Barnes and referee Hughie Russell Jr finally called a halt to the bout 2mins and 2secs into the fourth round when Slavchev astoundingly picked Barnes up on his shoulder and attempted to carry him fireman-style around the ring.
Wearing white shorts with gold trim, Barnes bounced eagerly in his corner prior to the opening bell with his amateur club coach, the legendary Gerry Storey working his corner.
Terrible debut last night, welcomed to the pros the hard way, easy win but couldn't perform against a clown! Support was amazing!!!!! pic.twitter.com/vEDCwZosfM— Paddy Barnes (@paddyb_ireland) November 6, 2016
It would be harsh on Slavchev to say that he was in survival mode from the opening bell, but the Bulgarian was certainly on the back foot and he only ever hinted at throwing a punch against Barnes, who was in pursuit from early on.
The Belfast man had claimed prior to the bout that he would unleash some pent-up aggression on his foe, having recently had to deal with the stress of his fiancé Mari being stuck in hospital following the birth of their second daughter, Fianna, due to an illness.
Competing for the first time since his disappointing loss at the Rio Olympics, the 29-year-old Ardoyne native was more accurate in the second round when attempting to let off that steam as he landed a few short right hooks before trapping Slavchev on the ropes midway through the round with a characteristically busy flurry of shots.
Slavchev began to frustrate the former European amateur champion in the third round as he continually held, his efforts at grappling resulting in the pair tumbling to the ground with a clearly irritated Barnes gritting his teeth in frustration.
Worse was to come in the fourth when Slavchev opted to pick up Barnes and Russell immediately waved the fight off.