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Paddy Barnes makes up for Michael Conlan loss

By David Kelly

Paddy Barnes won his first WSB contest for the Italia Thunder but there was disappointment for team-mate and close friend Michael Conlan who lost a close decision against the Baku Fires in Baku, Azerbaijan at the weekend.

Double Olympic bronze medallist Barnes defeated Magomed Ibiyev on a unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-44) in the light-fly division but Conlan was beaten on points (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) by Magomed Gurabov at bantamweight.

Irish coach Billy Walsh, who was working the corner for Barnes and Conlan, said: "It was a very good performance from Paddy, tremendous pace, accuracy and dominance. We thought he won every round.

"Michael performed tremendously given that this is his first fight back since his hand injury. He had a fantastic first round and we thought he won three of the rounds against a tough opponent."

At the Irish Elite championships in Dublin, two-time Ulster senior champion Kurt Walker comfortably outpointed Jamie Higgins of St Brigid's and will meet Sean Higginson - from Conlan's St John Bosco club - in the bantamweight final after beating Braid's Anthony O'Rawe, winning every round.

There was disappointment for TJ Waite of Cairn Lodge who lost a unanimous decision to Myles Casey of St Francis at flyweight but Sean McComb is through to the lightweight final after defeating Gerard Matthews of St Paul's with a dominant display. Defending middleweight champion Michael O'Reilly edged out Derry's Conor Coyle on a split decision.

Meanwhile, Leo Santa Cruz stopped Jesus Ruiz 29 seconds into the eighth round to retain his WBC title in Las Vegas and remain on course for a 2015 showdown with Belfast's IBF super-bantam king Carl Frampton.

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