The Belfast flyweight has turned professional after an illustrious amateur career and will start punching for pay on the Boxnation show at the Titanic Exhibition Centre. However, were the card not in his home city, Barnes would not have been able to fight. The 29 year old’s fiancé Mari has recently been in hospital due to complications with the pregnancy of their second child (little Fíanna made her arrival last Friday), leaving Paddy with the heavyweight task caring for big sister Eireann and running the Barnes household.
Despite the huge stress and commitment, the proximity of a show in Belfast, along with the buzz of a home fight, meant that Barnes is able to make his bow at home.
The Holy Family man, who intends to relocate to England for training, explained that “I’d like to become Ireland’s quickest ever champion but unfortunately I’ve not really been able to train as I’d like for my debut,”
“To be honest, I’m only fighting cos the show happens to be in Belfast and I can be close by. I was actually offered an eight rounder but I decided on six.”
“I think the last time I boxed in Belfast was in 2007 and the last time I boxed in Ireland was in 2012. Belfast folk love their boxing and always turn out in high numbers so this is a brilliant opportunity to showcase my skills before my home fans.”
While the preparations have not been ideal, Barnes still aims to please. The double Olympic bronze medalist has long said that pro boxing is a business rather than a sport – and it is a business he feels he can excel in. He described how “pro boxing’s a small sport but a huge business and you have to entertain,”
“The amateur game was all about speed so I’ve needed to learn to sit down on my punches a bit more. People say I’ll need to slow down but I’m confident that I can go flat out for twelve rounds. I’ve always had an aggressive entertaining style. I’m going to bring a high pace and real excitement to the pros.”
“I’ve done a fair amount of sparring with Jamie Conlan, Marco McCullough and, as recently as last December, Carl Frampton so I know I’ll cope with the pro styles.”
“My power should really start to show once I hit twelve-round title level. I’ll be going for the knockout in every fight.”
“You don’t see too many stoppages at my weight but I’m already putting plenty of bigger men on the deck in sparring.”
The easy comparison to make is with two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Barnes nemesis Zou Shiming. While the Chinese fighter will fight for the WBO flyweight title, also on November 5th, he has struggled to adapt to the pro game, and can certainly thank his promoters Top Rank for his place near the top of the division.
The Irishman is confident, even now, of triumphing over Shiming. Outlining how he is better suited to the vestless game, Barnes noted how “Zou beat me three times as an amateur. If we meet as pros, I know it’ll have to be in China but that’s no problem at all.”
“I’ll beat him over 12 rounds. I punch harder, I’ve a better engine and the longer distance will suit me better. I won the last round big in our most recent fight.”