Paddy Barnes: 'It was never my dream to turn professional'

Paddy Barnes
Paddy Barnes won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and then four years later at the Games in London

Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes has said he has no regrets about his career after retiring from boxing.

After a decorated amateur career, the 32-year-old fought nine times during three years as a professional.

The Belfast boxer hung up his gloves after losing to Jay Harris at the Ulster Hall last month.

"Being a professional was never a dream of mine. My dream was always to be an Olympic champion," said Barnes on Sportsound Extra Time.

Less than a week after announcing his retirement, Barnes has taken up a new job with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association as Club Development Officer for Ulster.

As well as his two Olympic medals in London and Rio, Barnes won gold medals while competing for Northern Ireland at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

He turned professional in 2016 and won his first five fights, however three losses in his last four bouts made Barnes consider his future in the sport.

The defeat to Welshman Harris in four rounds at the Ulster Hall proved to be the final straw for Barnes, who says he had the option of carrying on but knew the time was right to retire.

"The only reason I was in the sport was to be the best," said Barnes.

"I could have fought journeymen and got paid for it, but that's not why I was in boxing for.

Paddy Barnes at Windsor Park
Barnes' first defeat as a professional came at the hands of Cristofer Rosales at Windsor Park

"I've been to three Olympics, and people told me that I should have turned professional after my second Games.

"That was just never a dream of mine and I just wanted to win gold.

"Once I did turn pro, there wasn't a transition and I just threw myself into the deep end.

"I tried and I came up short, but I have no regrets whatsoever."

I knew I was on the decline

Barnes, who has now started a job with Sport NI after retiring, says he has been "a bit overwhelmed" since announcing he was quitting the sport.

"The response has been mad," he added.

"There's been over 1000 messages with people wishing me well and thanking me for the memories."

After three defeats in his last four fights, the popular flyweight said he knew that he knew his time in the professional ranks would be limited.

Paddy Barnes and Joel Sanchez
Barnes' last victory came against Joel Sanchez at Falls Park in August

"I felt, not just in training, that my reaction times were getting slower.

"I noticed it in my last few performances, especially the one in Falls Park, where I wasn't able to slip punches like I used to be able to.

"I knew that I was on the decline and I'm a realist. I knew I wouldn't be a world champion.

"I wanted to be the best, so I knew that the time was right to retire."

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