Paddy Barnes on his 'terrible' bout while wife and new baby were in hospital
Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes has said he's delighted to have survived his "terrible debut" in professional boxing on Saturday night, having to fight while his fiancee and new baby daughter were confined to hospital.
Two-time Olympic medallist Barnes (29) beat rival Stefan Slavchev in bizarre circumstances at the Titanic Centre bout after his opponent was disqualified for lifting him.
Posting on Twitter afterwards, Barnes said: "Terrible debut last night, welcomed to the pros the hard way, easy win but couldn't perform against a clown! Support was amazing!"
He also said his professional debut had followed one of the most stressful weeks of his life after his fiancee Mari remained in hospital with an infection following the birth to their second daughter, Fianna.
The fighter said he had not been able to see them all week, due to the risk of catching an infection himself. However, there seemed to be signs of improvement by Saturday morning. He posted a picture of himself proudly holding his infant daughter, saying: "Trip to the hospital this morning to see my girls before I get the show on the road tonight."
The boxer said he had dashed to the hospital to be there for his daughter's birth after receiving a phone call at a press conference for fellow athlete Michael Conlan. "The birth went well but then Mari got the infection," he said. "Not only is Mari very bad but (eldest daughter) Eireann has been sick as well and I had to take her to the doctor this week. The only one who isn't sick is Fianna."
Despite the unconventional outcome of his first professional clash, Barnes said he was now determined to win a European title within five fights.
Meanwhile, there was controversy in the crowd on Saturday as mob boss Daniel Kinahan watched the fight despite an alleged murder plot against him from former IRA gunmen.
Kinahan is widely suspected of helping to run one of the largest drug cartels in Europe, and has been the subject of a number of assassination threats this year as part of a bloody Dublin gangland feud that has claimed 10 lives.
In April, Kinahan was the target of a shooting in Dublin's Regency hotel, where his cousin David Byrne died in the crossfire.
On Saturday, a security source told our sister newspaper, Sunday Life, that two former IRA gunmen had been hired to kill Kinahan and a fellow gang member as they left the Titanic Centre.
The source said: "A major police operation was put in place after intelligence was received that Kinahan was to be shot dead with assault rifles.
He also had his own security team with him and he is well aware of the level of threat against him."