However the double Olympic bronze medalist is deadly serious now – he wants a world title fight in 2018.
Having won the WBO European and WBO Intercontinental titles last year, Barnes has set his sights on the organisation’s champion – Sho Kimura [16(9)-1-2(2)].
The Japanese fighter shocked long-time Barnes target Zou Shiming in China last Summer with a destructive eleventh round stoppage to take the WBO 112lbs title and seemingly send the three-time Olympic medalist into retirement.
Kimura then defended his title last week versus veteran ex-champ Toshiyuki Igarashi with another stoppage win, taking out the Olympian, who announced his retirement afterwards, in the ninth.
30 year old Barnes now wants to be the next Olympian to take a crack at the Saitama slugger, and let this be known to Kimura via Twitter.
.@sho_kimura1105 I’m sure you are due to have a voluntary defence, I’m number 10 with WBO, wanna fight? 👀👍
— Paddy Barnes OLY (@paddyb_ireland) January 4, 2018
Barnes is currently ranked #10 with the body – and is expected to move up to at least eighth when Shiming and Igarashi retirements are factored in.
Unlike many Japanese fighters, Tokyo-based Kimura has shown a propensity to travel – going to China to challenge Zou and having his camp for the Igarashi fight in Hong Kong and Thailand.
A full-time alcoholic beverage delivery driver, Kimura currently does not have big promotional backing and theoretically could be wooed to Belfast.
However, there are attractive options closer to home for the 29 year old.
The conveyor belt of Japanese talent has churned out two top 22 year olds and there are clamours for Kimura to put his belt on the line against these.
Primarily there are the calls for a unification with WBC champion Daigo Higa [14(14)-0], then there are also those interested in Kimura defending against top-ranked contender and two-weight world champ Kosei Tanaka [10(6)-0].
Tanaka though has just stepped up in weight and fractured both his cheekbones in his last fight in September, so may need some time to adjust.
With Barnes’s promoter Frank Warren exerting a considerable influence over the WBO, it is not inconceivable to imagine such a world title fight taking place as the chief support on the Carl Frampton v Nonito Donaire bill in Belfast on April 7th.
What’s more likely though is that ‘The Leprechaun’ makes a defence of his Intercontinental belt on this bill and leaps to near the top of the rankings for a title fight against Kimura on the big Windsor Park bill in August – or even as a headline fight of its own in the Autumn.
The other current flyweight world champion is Filipino Donnie Nietes [40(22)-1(0)-4] who holds the iBF belt. The WBA title is vacant,