Ty Barnett went to Las Vegas looking for a jackpot, but in the end, he simply ran into someone with a stronger hand.
The local lightweight boxer was knocked out in the in the ninth round
of the main event on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” by unbeaten Filipino Mercito Gesta. The fight was Barnett’s biggest opportunity to date, his first televised bout after seven years as a professional. It showcased all the strengths and weaknesses that have brought him to this point.
After a cautious start, Barnett, 29, flashed the technical ability he honed during his brief but successful amateur career. He showed slick defensive skills and managed to land some good right hands, catching Gesta’s notice. But Barnett also showed a chin made of less than granite, combined with a bravado that forced him to stand and trade punches even when it was unwise to do so.
Gesta “was the better fighter. Tonight,” said Scott “Duke” Buchanan, Barnett’s trainer.
Barnett was inconsolable after the bout. Friends insisted he had nothing to hang his head over, but he admitted he had ignored some of Buchanan’s advice, and gotten caught with punches as a result. A win would have stamped Barnett a contender. With the loss, Barnett faces an uphill climb to reach this level once again.
“I did a lot of things wrong,” Barnett said afterward. “I didn’t follow up [my punches] like I was supposed to.”
After removing his gloves and cutting off his handwraps, Barnett’s handlers ushered him into the curtained stalls in the hallway that served as dressing rooms. There he sat draped in towels as the doctor examined him and his cutman applied an ice pack to his head. Barnett’s small circle of supporters insisted that he had fought a hell of a fight, but it was all he could do not to break down.
“If you didn’t get caught in the ninth, you would have had a chance in the last round,” insisted his cutman, Miguel Diaz.
After getting dressed, composing himself and donning a pair of sunglasses to hide his bruises, Barnett was still heartbroken but more philosophical about the loss. Despite losing the biggest fight of his career, he insisted he will continue boxing.
“I lost. That always feels like I didn’t do what I was supposed to,” said Barnett. “Nevertheless, I’m a soldier. I had to go out on my shield. I’ll be back.”
Gautham Nagesh is editor of the boxing blog Stiff Jab.
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