2016 was a tough year for Paddy Barnes [1(0)-0].
The Ardoyne fighter was defeated by the scales ahead of the Rio Olympics, and a weight-drained Barnes saw his dreams of Olympic gold come crashing down with an opening round defeat to unheralded Spaniard Samuel Carmona.
An inevitable switch to the pros took place after the Games, but this would not go to plan either. A disrupted first camp meant Barnes debuted in much more muted circumstances than he had hoped, and his bout with negative journeyman Stefan Slavchev would descend into farce as the Bulgarian was disqualified for ridiculously lifting the Belfast man over his shoulder.
Speaking to Irish-Boxing.com ahead of a fresh start, Barnes admitted that “the birth of my second daughter Fíanna was the only highlight of 2016, but all in all it was really a terrible year inside and outside of boxing for me.”
The 29 year old has vowed to move straight into competitive fights following his brief dalliance with journeymen, starting with a bout at the Waterfront Hall on February 18th. The always-ambitious Barnes is hoping for big names and titles in his first full year as a pro, and he explained how “I’ve asked my team to get me some big names this year to fight – two of whom I was hoping to get early this year, but it doesn’t look very likely. I’m sure it will happen [eventually].”
“I’m aiming for the European title, maybe before Summertime, then end the year fighting world level opponents and/or world champions – preferably Zou Shiming.”
Not only is he looking to progress, Barnes is keen to show off “my speed and power, I never got a chance in my debut so I aim to get opponents that will come to fight so I can entertain the fans.”
Photo Credit: Michael Hooley
Joe O’Neill and Gavan Casey look ahead to 2017 in episode 1 of The Irish Boxing Show