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.
A gutted Barnes said: “It was so hard making the weight.
“I just made the weight this morning. About six weeks ago, I was 58 kilos and now I’m down to 49. Halfway through the first round, I felt so tired.
“This weight category is not for me. I need to move up.
“The fight could have gone either way but I’m actually glad he got it because there is no way I could have had the energy to fight another fight at this weight. It’s just as well he won.
“I really truly believe I would come away with the gold medal and for it to be taken away at the first hurdle is heartbreaking.”
And Barnes says his days of fighting at 49kg are at an end as he struggled to get down to the weight for the Games.
“It is always hard for me to make the weight but this time we trained differently and I was doubting if I would make the weight and I just made it.
“Even if I would have won that fight I would have got hammered in my next fight because I have no energy.
“And it is just as well I got beat because I would have been embarrassed in my next fight.
“This morning will be the last time I make 49kg ever so I will have to move up in weight,” added Barnes.
In spite of the defeat Ireland coach Zaur Antia believes Barnes is still a great talent.
“He is still young. Paddy is a special boxer and a strong boxer and he has one bad result.
“He can continue his career but the weight he is at is causing him trouble. All the legends have lost fights, this is boxing.
“We were very confident before the fight but the weight was the problem. His attacks were good and I thought it was a good performance from Paddy,” he added.
Meanwhile, David Oliver Joyce, who won on Sunday, will be in action on Tuesday versus Azeri lightweight Albert Selimov - who won AIBA World Elite gold for Russia in Chicago in 2007.