Belfast takeover of Manchester will be a “special” night for Paddy Barnes


Paddy Barnes [5(1)-1(1)] makes his comeback on December 22nd and it will be a special night for him.

Not because he’s in a big fight – no, the Belfast flyweight boxes in a six rounder as he returns from a World title loss in August.

Instead, it is special because it will be perhaps the only time in his career that he will share a card with his two closest friends in boxing.

Barnes roomed with Mick Conlan for years and has featured on two Carl Frampton undercards before – but Saturday December 22nd at the Manchester Arena will see all three brought together for the first time ever, amateur or pro.

Frampton headlines the BT Sport Box Office card, challenging IBF featherweight champ Josh Warrington while Conlan will box for a to-be-announced title against a to-be-announced British opponent.

Also featuring is light heavyweight Steven Ward, a pro gym-mate of Frampton and an amateur team-mate of both Barnes and Conlan – with more from Belfast potentially being added in the coming days and weeks.

Barnes can appreciate the Irish flavour and noted that “It’s crazy to have so many Belfast boxers on the card. I saw Warrington tweet that the fight should have been in Belfast because there are so many of us on it.”

“We’ll certainly be bringing plenty of support.”

On a personal level, it’s special for the fiercely loyal Barnes who draws inspiration from Frampton and is part of the same amateur class as Conlan.

Describing the deep ties, ‘The Leprechaun’ outlined how “I was best man at Carl’s wedding and we’re very good friends. In terms of him as a leading light for Irish boxing, we’re so lucky to have the likes of Carl. He sells out massive arenas, brings TV coverage and brings it all back to Belfast. ”

“If you’re a boxer from Belfast, Carl Frampton is someone you’d aspire to be. If you can do a fraction of what he’s done in his career with winning all those world titles, you’ll have done well.”

“Frampton and Conlan are the godfathers to my kids so to be fighting alongside them on the card is special on a personal level for me.”

An opponent for Barnes will be confirmed shortly but the Cliftonville man is not expected to have a major fight or placement on the bill.

Managerial stablemate Sunny Edwards has called for a clash, even over six rounds, but Barnes is not keen to even entertain the Englishman due to a personal dislike.

Instead the 31-year-old will most likely fight a durable journeyman to get back to winning ways following his August defeat at Windsor Park to WBC champ Cristofer Rosales.

Stopped to the body that night in the football stadium at the end of four competitive rounds, Barnes is targeting a renewed assault on world titles and plans for one or two more competitive bouts early next year before, hopefully, going for another major belt.

The division’s champions other than Rosales are Ukrainian Artem Dalakian (WBA), South African Moruti Mthalane (IBF), and Japan’s Kosei Tanaka (WBO).

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie