The three-time Olympian isn’t fearful of opponent Eliecer Quezada, but has a losing phobia and believes that, if he puts in a below par performance against the experienced Nicaraguan, a defeat could well happen.
Barnes believes Quezada [21(8)-6(2)-3] represents the hardest fight of his career spanning both his amateur and pro stints.
The Central American is typically tough, has fought for numerous rankings titles before, and holds two wins over Yader Cardoza – who himself lost out on a split-decision to upcoming world title challenger Jamie Conlan.
It seems a strange statement from the little man who fought and beat some of the best in his vest wearing days. However, the Belfast favourite indicates that his clashes in the amateurs never really tested him physically or asked questions about his toughness, suggesting that Quezada may at one stage force him to bite down on his gum shield.
That’s not to say Barnes isn’t adamant he will win, indeed he has been essentially demanding this kind of test. That said, he is equally as forthright in his opinion that fighting his old nemesis, two-time Olympic gold medalist and recent World champion Zou Shiming would be an easier night’s work than having to do rounds with his fifth pro foe on Saturday.
“This will be my hardest fight amateur or pro,” he told Irish-Boxing.com before Shiming was thrown in as a rebuttal.
“Zou wasn’t a hard fight for me, it was a weird fight, he just stayed away from me and I couldn’t pin him down. It was frustrating not hard, it wasn’t a test on your body this one will be.”
“It’s a possible I might have to go places I have never been on Saturday, but I have skills I have yet to show and I have more gears in me too. That fear factor of losing will be in there. I know I can’t lose and I need to go out there and be at my best.”
Quezada may represent a tougher challenge than an amateur Shiming, but Barnes still wants revenge over the fighter who denied him a finals spot in two Olympics.
A WBO Intercontinental trinket is on the line on Saturday and it’s not lost on WBO European champ Barnes that securing that will secure him a second belt and a Top 10 World ranking after just five fights.
Already #14, Barnes promised that, should he eventually win the main WBO strap, he would offer the Top Rank fighter a chance to win it back.
Shiming won the belt in his second tilt at World honours last November, but lost the strap via shock knockout in July against Sho Kimura
“It’s another belt which should put me in the top 10 in the World so when I when I win this fight I will eligible to fight for a World title. I’ll win the belt then and I’ll be nice enough to offer Zou a chance to come win it back,” Barnes continued before revealing how he ended up in against Eliecer Quezada.
“It wasn’t the opponent I wanted to be honest. I wanted some guy from Spain that was unbeaten with a 7-0 record. I was told that fight was going to be made then I was talking to his team personally and they said he didn’t want to fight me, so I don’t know what happened there.”
“I only found out last week, but what can you do. I was given three opponents, they said pick one, I wasn’t bothered so I just said ‘alright him’.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)