Paddy Barnes [3(0)-0] was made to work for the first time as a pro on Saturday night, and the Belfast flyweight is taking great confidence from his win over Silvio Olteanu.
The triple Olympian claimed the WBO European title and, more importantly, a WBO ranking, with a hard-fought ten-round majority-decision points win over Olteanu.
A fight in which he was wobbled in the second and had to withstand a big barrage in the ninth, Barnes was grateful for the experience.
“It’s given me great confidence,” he said afterwards. “My first 10-rounder in my third fight, at high pace against someone who’s very, very good.
“I’m a bit tired. Well, I’m not too tired – just a bit relieved. It was a tough fight. The fella [Olteanu] was a very tough fighter.”
“I expected it would go 10 rounds, I said it before. Who am I to knock him out, you know? I’ve never had a knockout in my life. It was great to fight 10 rounds.”
Barnes admits the fight was a learning curve for him, and the 30 year old described how “at times, my head was all over the place, because I hurt him, but I didn’t know whether to step on the gas because I was told to pace it a bit.”
“I didn’t know what I was doing at times, you know what I mean? That was the first 10 rounds I’ve ever done in my life.”
“I was covering up and taking a break, and I think that’s why so many rounds went against me – because I kept my hands tight and let him blast away. He wouldn’t hurt me. It’s all an experience for me.
The Romanian had perhaps been underestimated by some before, and even after, the clash. Barnes again paid credit to his opponent and noted how “I’ll not get a much tougher test than that, there, especially this early in my career.”
“The guy I fought was a serious contender. He might be 39, but he’s twice a European champion, and he lost by split decision in a world title fight – in Japan. So he’s a very good fighter. ”
“He didn’t surprise me at all. I knew – I’ve been watching him – how game and tough he was. He’s very limited with his boxing.”
His friend and gym mate Jamie Conlan has garnered a reputation as a crowd-pleaser in recent times, and it looks like Barnes will be following a similar path. Following two muted wins over journeymen, ‘The Leprechaun’ certainly entertained the fans at the Waterfront Hall.
“The reception was great,” said Barnes. “I’m glad it was a tough fight because it might get people back.”
“If we get fights like this all the time, people will want to see it. It’s not like fighting them easy journeymen.”
“We need good fights like we go there, and hopefully the fans will come back and watch me, and want a bit more.”
Looking ahead, Barnes’s eyes are still fixed firmly on Macau and a big bout with Olympic conqueror Zou Shiming. First however he must move up the rankings [Barnes is expected to enter the WBO June rankings somewhere between 11th and 15th].
Outlining his plans, Barnes said “I’d like to fight for the WBO Inter-Continental or International title, and move myself even further up the WBO rankings, because Zou Shiming is the ultimate goal.”
“He’s the Floyd Mayweather of flyweights, he’s the money man. So, he’s the man I want to fight. ”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)