Carl Frampton is backing Paddy Barnes [6(1)-2(1)] to rise to the occasion and win a make or break clash at the Ulster Hall tonight.
The former world title challenger takes on undefeated European and Commonwealth champion Jay Harris [16(8)-0] on the top of a stacked #MTKFightNight tonight.
His best mate knows it’s a virtually must win encouther for the two time Olympic bronze medalist, especially considering he lost two of his last three bouts. In fact ‘The Jackal’ has gone as far as to label the bill topper ‘crucial’ and ‘make or break’.
The former two weight world champion, who returns to the ring for the first time since his defeat to Josh Warrington on November 30 in Las Vegas, also warns Harris is anything is but a push over.
However, he is confident the occasion and what is at stake will ensure Barnes will deliver.
“This Friday is a crucial moment in the professional career of my mate Paddy Barnes as he faces reigning European champion Jay Harris in the Ulster Hall,” Frampton said in his popular Sunday Life column.
“Paddy and Harris, who will be fighting for the vacant IBF xx, should give the fans a treat and the winner will be pushed up the rankings.
“Paddy has always had a mission to become the fastest Irish fighter to a world title and that is still possible, but there is no doubt this is a tough fight for him and he needs this victory otherwise it would be three loses from four.
“There is no doubt that this clash does have the feel of a make or break fight for Paddy.
Frampton is confident it will be more make than break come tonight – and believes the Ulster Hall crowd could play a part.
“He can make a big statement with a win against Harris, who has shown himself a good fighter wining European and Commonwealth titles on his way to 16 wins.
“I believe Paddy will rise to the occasion in front of the Belfast fans. Paddy will give it everything against Harris over 12 rounds in what should be a good fight and I am backing Paddy to win.”
Frampton also paid tribute to Barnes desire and even bravery in terms of fight selection.
After stepping up to world level as early as his fifth fight didn’t produce glory and a step up in weigh next time out backfired, ‘The Leprechaun’ would have been forgiven for easing his way back.
However, Barnes accepted the challenge of the talent Harris despite the fact he was said to be working his way down to light fly.
It’s an approach his friend and former amateur club mate has praised.
“He is a very proud guy, a real warrior and he has no interest in fighting journey men just to pad out his record.
“I give him a lot of credit for his attitude to the sport because it would have been easier to take a couple of handy fights to get himself going again, but he is willing to take the risk,” adds ‘The Jackal’ before claiming he wants to see a more pro approach from his fellow Belfast favourite.
“I want to see him plant his feet more and landing solid punches. I know he still has a little bit of an amateur trait where he will throw ten punches very fast, but with little impact,, but with Harris he needs to deliver with more venom.”