Wednesday 28 September 2016

Kenneth Egan: Keyboard warriors knocking Paddy are an absolute disgrace

Kenneth Egan

Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30

Paddy Barnes reacts to his defeat by Samuel Carmona Heredia. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Paddy Barnes reacts to his defeat by Samuel Carmona Heredia. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

I've known Paddy Barnes for years and when I saw him blowing on his stool after the first round it was obvious his Olympic dream was hanging in the balance. That's not the powerhouse we've become accustomed to seeing.

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He has struggled through weight issues during his career but it caught up with him yesterday. It's the last time anyone will see him at 49kg because his fight was fought before he stepped inside the ring.

Even if he'd beaten the Spaniard he would've been facing an uphill battle in the next round because he was killing himself to make the cut and ended up boxing on fumes.

Read more: Barnes loss shakes Irish team

Trying to combine fighting and weight cutting over a fortnight would have tortured his body. He hasn't seen 49kg since he fought in the World Series of Boxing in April and it was some achievement to even make the weight; a lesser man would have thrown in the towel.

It's unfortunate that he qualified at light-flyweight (49kg) rather than flyweight (52kg) because it could have been a different story. He's 29 now and it's harder to make weight so it finally caught up with him.

He always works from the first bell till the last, throwing massive combinations, and after that first round he looked cooked. He went into auto-pilot and was throwing shots on instinct alone.

Concentration

I still felt he won the second and third rounds but his concentration was clouded and at the end of the second he stopped to gesture at the referee and was caught with a couple of silly shots. His mind clearly wasn't on the game.

Paddy had another battle on his hands and that's the most important thing you have to worry about. If you're comfortable with your weight it's just a formality.

But Paddy has been trying to take this off for the last couple of months and the power was lost on the scales a couple of hours previous because he wasn't knocking his opponent back like normal.

He was caught off guard and probably underestimated Heredia. When I saw the fresh-faced 20-year-old walking out smiling and full of energy I thought Paddy could be in trouble. This guy meant business.

As the fight went on I'm sure he noticed there was no power in Paddy's shots, he wasn't in any trouble and was pushing him back at times - that's unprecedented. If he was on his game Paddy would have blown him away.

But when your mind is not on the game and you're distracted it makes all the difference, those one or two percent.

People will say Billy Walsh's corner advice was the missing link but don't forget we have the best technical and tactical coach in the world, Zaur Antia.

The problem was the scales, it had nothing to do with opponents or coaches. He was burnt out making the weight and didn't look like the real Paddy Barnes.

Read more: Vincent Hogan: Barnes’ Olympic dream cursed by weight demands

I was on Twitter and saw all these 'diehards' slating him after. Don't forget he has two Olympic bronze medals, he's boxed in three Olympic Games, so these people sitting on the couch with their bellies sticking out of their T-shirts slating Paddy are an absolute disgrace.

This type of thing will never happen again. The hardship of trying to qualify for the Olympics from Europe is near impossible and for Paddy to do it twice was extraordinary. To qualify for his third one at the same weight is nothing short of phenomenal, and people need to appreciate what he's done.

Twitter is the perfect distraction for someone like Paddy, who was working immensely hard behind closed doors, and when he gets time he chills out online to kill time. Don't forget they're over there for three weeks, it can be very boring.

You're sitting around in between fights and it's a long 24 hours between fights in the Olympic village. He had the craic and bit of a laugh and the people throwing that back in his face now are idiots.

These keyboard warriors haven't got a clue what's going on or what it takes to be an Olympian. Paddy is a very special talent and I think he has more to offer.

I can't see him hanging around for another Games. He has a wealth of experience and should turn professional. His old nemesis from London, Zou Shiming, turned pro and has been doing well for himself so it's only a matter of time I'd say.

You haven't heard the last of Paddy Barnes, mark my words.

Irish Independent

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