Watch: 'I thought he won every round' - Paddy Barnes considering retirement after latest defeat
It was a contrasting night for Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan as the Olympic bronze medalists returned to the ring in New York.
Conlan kept up his love affair with New York on St Patrick's night when he chalked up the eleventh win of his professional career at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
It was the third consecutive year the two-time Olympian had fought and won at the venue. He defeated Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez in a ten-round contest in front of 3,712 fans to retain the WBO Intercontinental featherweight belt.
Conlan was always in control, switching between southpaw and orthodox against the Mexcian who had won 24 of his previous 30 contests. All three judges awarded the Irish fighter all ten rounds to give him a shutout 100-90 win.
"I think I just used my skills as I said I would," said Conlan, who was flanked to the ring by WWE superstar Finn Balor.
"I showed a lot of good defensive movements and things I've been working on. We were in no rush to try and take out this guy. He went the distance with Nonito Donaire and a few other top fighters.
"There were a few times I probably could have stepped on it, but we wanted to practice things we're been working on. I felt we did that tonight."
Conlan's coach Adam Booth said he was pleased with the performance. "These are development rounds that will help him become a world champion. He is working on exactly what we are practising in the gym and it's working."
Russian fighter Vladimir Nikitin, who infamously got the decision over Conlan at the 2016 Rio Olympics, won his third professional fight on the show and a rematch between the pair is now inevitable – possibly in Belfast next summer.
But for another of Ireland's Olympic heroes, double bronze medallist Paddy Barnes, it was a night to forget as he slumped to his second consecutive pro defeat. Barnes was beaten by unheralded veteran Oscar Mojica on a split decision.
In his first fight in the bantamweight division, Barnes was struggling from the moment the Texan broke his nose in round one. He knocked Barnes to the canvas with a body shot in round two but the referee did not rule it as a knockdown.
Barnes ultimately came out on the wrong side of a split decision, although afterwards the Belfast boxer said that he felt he should have been defeated by a wider margin.
Speaking to Top Rank Boxing after the defeat, Barnes admitted that he is now considering whether or not to retire from the sport.
"In the first round, he broke my nose," Barnes said.
"To be honest, I don’t know how the judges scored it close because I thought he won every round. I’m too small for bantamweight, but to be honest with you, I’ll probably retire now.
"Is there any real point in boxing on after a fight like that?
"The fans are great but at the end of the day it’s my health and all. If I’m going to box like that, what’s the point in boxing anymore?
"I strongly think this is it. I always thought if I lost again, I’d retire. The fight wasn’t even close. I thought he won every round."