We can expect “a more mature performance and a better Paddy Barnes” on June 17th, according to the man himself.
The Belfast star, in just his third fight, makes the jump up to ten rounds where he will challenge for the vacant WBO European belt.
Barnes [2(0)-0] will take on Spanish-based Romanian Silvio Oltneau [16(7)-11(2)-1].
A massive, near unprecedented, leap in class, ‘The Leprechaun’ has been pitted against a former EU and European champion who has previously challenged for world honours.
Unsurprisingly, Barnes has no fears or doubts ahead of the fight, and he noted how “it’s a challenge I’m really excited for and I’m really looking forward to.”
“It’s a big step up in class – he has fought for the world title, he’s won multiple European titles and he’s obviously going to come to win against somebody who’s only 2-0. That excites me and it’ll make me train harder because I’ll be more nervous. I’ll be ready for this fight.”
Not that the triple Olympian and all-round amateur legend has anything to prove, but Barnes is keen to be back in competitive fights following a brief dalliance with negative journeymen in his opening two pro bouts.
The 30 year old explained that “it’s good for me to step up because I don’t like people talking shite saying ‘Barnes is fighting a nobody’.
“This time I’m not fighting a nobody, I’m fighting an ex European champion and somebody who has fought for the world title so I’m not fooling anyone.”
“I’m going into the deep end to fight for a title in my third fight. People should come and see how good I really am.”
“You haven’t seen the best of me because I’m fighting against people who have come to survive and don’t want to attack me. It’s hard because you’re fighting somebody so negative.”
The Oltenau fight will be contested over a longer distance than Barnes has ever gone, even in sparring, but the Cliftonville man is confident that he can translate his energetic, overwhelming style to the longer format
“I think I can go 10 rounds flat-out, but we’ll have to wait and see,” he mused.
“I did think I needed to slow myself down but I think I could go 10 rounds at a high pace flat-out. Why not?
“I’ve never sparred 10 in my life, the most I’ve sparred is seven and it was tiring, but if I have to do 10 rounds I’ll still be standing, I’ll not be that tired.”
“I’ve seen other boxers do it and I train just as hard, if not harder, than anybody else in the world. Why can’t I do 10 rounds at a high pace? Lets see if I can or not.”
As it is a championship fight, Barnes must weigh in at 112lbs, the professional flyweight limit, or under. In his previous bouts he has weighed almost half a stone heavier.
Barnes, who would come in at 108lbs in the amateurs, assures that the weight wont be an issue, indeed it will be an advantage.
He described how “in my first two training camps weight was in the back of my mind, as an amateur weight was always the first port of call.
“First two fights, because they weren’t for a title, I could weigh in at whatever I wanted. I tried to weigh in at 52.5, 53kg, but this is 51kg, 2kg higher than what I was weighing as an amateur, day before weigh-in, I could still make 49kg!”
“I’m going to be massive and strong for a flyweight.”
“People think because I’m a flyweight I don’t have power but I probably have dropped more people and have the most knockouts in the Irish team over the past 10 years. I’ve dropped a lot of people and I’m hoping to bring that into the professional game with smaller gloves on. I can’t see why not.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)
In addition to Barnes, the bill next month also features Jamie Conlan, Steven Ward, Lewis Crocker, aWBO European title fight between Steve Ormond and Craig Evans, and an IBF super featherweight title clash between Jono Carroll and Johnny Quigley.
Tickets for the night cost £30, £40, £60, and £150, and are available from the boxers involved.
LISTEN: Mick Conlan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 4 of The Irish Boxing Show