Tuesday 28 January 2020

Paddy Barnes 'glad' to exit Rio 2016 after struggling to adapt to weight

Paddy Barnes admitted he felt a sense of relief after suffering a shock defeat in his opening bout at Riocentro as Ireland's dreadful start to the Olympic boxing competition continued.

Barnes, the two-time light-flyweight bronze medallist, dropped a split decision to Spain's Samuel Carmona in a thrilling encounter that split the ringside judges.

It was the second major setback for the Irish, already stunned by a positive drugs test for one as-yet unnamed member of the team, who has been provisionally suspended pending the results of a 'B' sample.

The 29-year-old Barnes dropped a tight first round on two cards and looked tired in the second as the slick Carmona nailed him with a series of looping left hands.

Incredibly the judges drew him level going into the last, and at the end of an increasingly frantic third both men raised their arms in the expectation of being given the verdict.

The judges sided with the Spaniard, and Barnes revealed attempting to make the 49kg weight limit left him feeling drained in the build-up.

He said: "To be honest, when I look back now at how I felt, I'm almost glad I lost because there's no way I could have fought another fight at this weight.

"Getting below 49kg, my energy levels were zapped. I'm dehydrated, I told my team during the weigh-in that I was gonna be sick and I felt absolutely wrecked halfway through the first round.

"There was nothing in my punches. It's not that I'm trying to hurt people but it wasn't enough. I threw a lot of shots in the last round but they wouldn't have hurt a fly."

Earlier, Galal Yafai was the first British boxer to exit the tournament despite a courageous display against accomplished Cuban Joahnys Argilagos.

Yafai, a surprise qualifier for the Olympics given his relative lack of top-level experience, performed admirably in his attempts to take the fight to his Cuban opponent.

But Argilagos got into his stride and caught the judges' eyes with the sharper work, earning a split decision victory.

Yafai said: "I am gutted to have lost. Obviously you never want to lose at the Olympic Games and I thought I won but it is boxing and you live and you learn.

"I thought he was going to get a point [deducted in the third round], he was putting his head down and he looked knackered, I don't know what everyone else thought."

It has been quite a year for Yafai, and the 23-year-old took heart from his performance against the world champion.

He added: "I have got to take some positives as well. Obviously I have lost so I am gutted but, when I look back at it, 12 months ago I was working for Land Rover and now I have just lost out to the world champion in the Olympic Games on a split decision when I thought I'd won.

"It is boxing and you have got to live with it. I am pleased with how I fought, he is a world champion, so sometimes you don't get everything your own way."

Heavyweight Lawrence Okolie was unable to avenge a first-round defeat to Erislandy Savon from three months ago, but he did at least go the distance as his fearsome Cuban foe claimed a comprehensive points win.

The 23-year-old Okolie was floored inside eight seconds and dropped twice more en route to a defeat against the nephew of three-time Olympic champion Felix Savon at the World Series of Boxing final in Tashkent.

And he was put on the canvas in the first round again on Monday night, although it may have been a push following a glancing blow that forced Okolie to the floor after 50 seconds. Nevertheless he was given a standing eight count.

He recovered well in the second round and a solid one-two gained Savon's respect but the 26-year-old showed his experience by staying one step ahead of the Briton to take a 30-27 win on all three judges' scorecards.

Middleweight Antony Fowler was knocked down in the second round and left with a bloodied nose and a cut forehead after losing all three rounds to Kazakhstan's Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, the 2013 world champion.

However, there was better news in the welterweight category as Josh Kelly overcame Egyptian Walid Mohamed by unanimous decision.

However, he faces the world number one-ranked amateur welterweight Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan next.

PA Media

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