The English promoter has started to appreciate the love for the fight game in the capital of Irish boxing and, since signing Carl Frampton, is keen to build on ‘The Jackal’s’ success.
Frampton is obviously the leading light, but there will be a further chance for a number of Irish punchers to grab their share of the spotlight when the former unified world champion fights in Windsor Park this coming August.
However, the immediate focus Belfast-wise for the Londoner is Saturday June 30th and Michael Conlan’s homecoming.
The Top Rank fighter returns to his hometown for a BT broadcast bout and is expecting a ‘meaningful’ fight that will excite fans.
It seems the younger of the two boxing Conlan brothers won’t be the only former Olympian with something significant to look forward to on the card as WBO Inter-Continental and European champion Paddy Barnes [5(1)-0] looks to be handed a “big title fight.”
Who and for what title remains to be seen, but the popular little man has been calling for a fight with WBO world champion Sho Kimura [16(9)-1-2(2)]. The Japanese fighter claimed the title with a surprise victory over the Belfast man’s amateur nemesis Zou Shimming and successfully defended it against the brilliantly mulleted Toshiyuki Igarashi.
The champ hasn’t fought since December but has been heavily linked to a domestic derby with former light fly champion and current WBO 112lbs #1 contender Kosei Tanaka. Regardless Warren predicts something big for the WBO #6-ranked Barnes in a city he plans to build in.
Following two fights with journeymen to begin his career, Barnes has been moved swiftly since. In June he outpointed former European champion and World title challenger Silvio Olteanu before wins in October and November against Spanish champion Juan Hinostroza and Chocolatito sparring partner Elicier Quezada respectively.
Now Warren is looking to step the Cliftonville man up.
“Believe me, we are building something very special over in Belfast. Carl is obviously the catalyst for it all at the moment, but there are other big things in the pipeline. Mick Conlan returning to fight in his home city for the first time as a pro is one such development and we will also be looking to get Paddy Barnes in a big title fight on the same June 30th card back at the SSE Arena,” Warren said.
Warren doesn’t promote Conlan, that job is the honour of massive Stateside giant Bob Arum and Top Rank. However, the fighter who trains alongside Ryan Burnett at Adam Booth’s gym made sure that his contract allowed for a fight in Ireland once a year and the British promoter is excited to be part of that process.
“I’m thrilled to be bringing Irish amateur hero Michael Conlan back to his hometown. The Irish have been desperate to see him in action back home and on June 30th they will get the chance to watch one of the best featherweight prospects in the world in the flesh.”
“There is no doubt he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Carl Frampton and Wayne McCullough – two of Ireland’s finest. He has made an explosive start to life in the professional code and I’m predicting fireworks from him on his big homecoming.”
So far the only undercard fight confirmed for June 30th is Tyrone McCullagh’s BBBoC Celtic super bantamweight title clash with Joe Ham. However, Gary Cully and Stephen Ormond have both essentially confirmed on social media that they will feature on the bill.
Barnes, who turned 31 earlier this month, is also ranked #13 with the IBF. This belt, currently vacant, will be contested in July by South African Moruti Mthalane and Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem in Malaysia. Both of these boxers have been called out previously by Barnes.