Michael Conlan claims he owes a degree of his success to ‘grumpy’ Paddy Barnes.
In fact the the Top Rank fighter, who is being molded for stardom, revealed he wouldn’t be the boxer he is today, but for the three time Olympian.
Speaking in the days after the two time Olympic bronze medal winner retired, Conlan paid homage to his friend.
The younger brother of world title challenger Jamie Conlan always had talent, but he credits Barnes will helping him improve in terms focus, steel, self belief and even a work ethic.
“If it wasn’t for Paddy I’m sure I wouldn’t be the boxer I am today,” said Conlan told the Belfast Telegraph before explaining how his long time Irish team mate lead by example.
“I remember the very first spar I had with Paddy. I was a young cocky guy preparing for the Commonwealth Youth Games and I thought I’d just go in and dance around, outboxing him but he kept pressurising me and pressurising me and by the third round I was hanging on. If I’m honest he gave me a bit of a beating.
“From then on our friendship developed. I grew to really respect him and the way we sparred and the way he pushed me made me improve. He made me become a better boxer.”
“It was so important for my development to have Paddy in the same High Performance Irish training camp because we kept pushing each other in every way. Even if it was hitting the heavy bag – if he went hard at the bag, I had to go even harder.
“I remember leading up to the Commonwealth Games in 2010 we were sparring so well that people were saying we were both in with a great chance of gold. It probably made me too confident but Paddy went and got the gold and four years later we both got gold.”
It wasn’t all complimentary from Conlan, who is mid preparation for his grudge match Vladimir Nikitin, set for New York and December 14, when discussing Barnes.
The 2020 world title hopeful suggests the flyweight was a nightmare during a weight cut.
“The only thing I won’t miss is his grumpy face when he is making weight on fight week – he wouldn’t even speak to me at times!”