Barnes challenged for the WBC flyweight title back in August, being stopped in the fourth by Cristofer Rosales and, after his return to the ring ended in disaster last month, the double Olympic bronze medallist has committed to drop down to light flyweight for a final charge.
The light flyweight limit in the pros is 108lbs/49kg whereas Barnes fought for the world title last year – as well as his two prior WBO rankings title fights – at 112lbs/50.8kg.
However, his fight in New York on the Mick Conlan undercard at the Madison Square Garden Theater saw him weigh in as high as 119lbs/54kg – technically super bantamweight.
In a thrilling six rounder, Barnes was outmuscled by game Texan Oscar Mojica, having his nose broken in the opening exchanges and being dropped to the body in the second round.
In the immediate aftermath the Cliftonville 31-year-old admitted retirement was likely but he later confirmed that he will fight on.
This will now be in a lighter division, with Barnes telling the Sunday Life “I’ve decided to work with a new nutritionist to allow myself to box at light flyweight – then I will be the beast in the ring. That’s the way it was when I was an amateur.”
“I want to stay really active so I am not going up too much in weight in between fights and when the big fights come I will be ready to cut weight and fight for world titles.”
The 5’4″ Barnes fought as a light flyweight in the amateurs, competing at three Olympics. In the amateurs, light fly was initially 105.8lbs/48kg before being bumped up to 108lbs/49kg ahead of the London Olympics
The Ulsterman made weight consistently up until, and including, the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Barnes would then come in overweight for the Italia Thunder in the World Series of Boxing, with his franchise paying a forfeit, and he stormed to top spot in the 2015 season and qualification for the Olympics in Rio.
In Brazil, Barnes had serious difficulty making the weight and, with his opening bout versus Spaniard Samuel Carmona taking place just a short time after the weigh-in, the exhausted Irishman suffering a shock defeat.
However, with day-before weigh-ins and a new nutritionist on board, Barnes is confident that it is a move that will play to his strength.
Indeed, light fly in the pros always looked a possibility for Barnes, with the amateur legend noting back in 2016 that flyweight was chosen as it was a more glamourous division with bigger names.
At light flyweight there is some stiff competition. Japanese fighters Hiroto Kyoguchi [12(9)-0] and Ken Shiro [15(8)-0] hold the WBA and WBC belts respectively, Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado [34(30)-2(0)] has the IBF belt, while the WBO title is in the possession of Puerto Rican Ángel Acosta [21(20)-1(0)]
KO artist Acosta looks the likely route, with the WBO working frequently with Frank Warren, Top Rank, and MTK Global.
A new fight date for Barnes will be confirmed in due course.