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David Haye questions whether Paddy Barnes was ready for WBC world title fight against Cristofer Rosales

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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The perfectly-timed shot to the solar plexus that ended Paddy Barnes’ bid to win a world title in just his six professional bout has divided opinion on whether the 31-year-old Northern Irishman was ready for such a challenge in the first place.

Barnes was stopped by the body shot in the fourth round of his bout against WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s fight against Australia’s Luke Jackson at Windsor Park in Belfast on Saturday night.

The 23-year-old world champion from Nicaragua was making the first defence of the title he won from the then-highly regarded Daigo Higa in Yokohama, Japan last April. Not only was Rosales eight years younger than the two-time Olympic bronze medallist, but he was also more experienced in the pro ranks with a record that now stands at 28-3 (19) compared to 5-1 (1).

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Leading the chorus of criticism is former world cruiserweight champion and heavyweight titleholder David Haye, who believes that the only way for a boxer to able to absorb the type of body shot that stopped Barnes is to condition the body through hard sparring and competitive professional bouts.

“It takes years and years of conditioning, sparring and tough fights to become accustomed to the kind of punishment you can receive,” said Haye, a pundit for broadcaster BT Sports.

“Give it two or three years of hard work and he’ll be able to take that body shot… his body is not toughened and hardened enough for this kind of level.

“Give it a little while and he’ll come back, but because he is 31, they’ve probably tried to rush him a little bit.”

Rosales came into the fight with a reputation as a hard-punching champion who nevertheless had some vulnerabilities. Welshman Andrew Selby outboxed him over 12 rounds in just his ninth pro bout in May last year, while Birmingham’s WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai outpointed him over eight in 2015.

Team Barnes would have evaluated the risk versus reward ratio very closely before pursuing this bout, arriving at the conclusion that the home ground advantage combined with the stylistic match-up of boxer versus puncher and Barnes’ added experience of competing in the World Series of Boxing semi-pro tournament would give ‘The Leprechaun’ the edge he needed to win the fight. In other words, Rosales looked beatable.

A right uppercut to the solar plexus right on the bell to end the fourth round would put paid to that.

Unfortunately for Barnes, it wasn’t his night. Sometimes in boxing you just get caught with a perfect shot to the sweet spot.

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