The three-time Olympian announced himself as a proper pro with an impressive sixth-round one-punch knockout victory over Nicaraguan Eliecer Quezada on the ‘Frampton Reborn’ card on Saturday night.
Barnes saved his best paid performance for the big occasions, a massive crowd, the TV cameras and the ‘toughest opponent’ of his entire career.
After dropping the Central American in the second, Barnes piled on the pressure and eventually finished Quezada – a sparring partner of future Hall of Famer Roman Gonzalez – with a left hook to the body just after half-way.
‘The Leprechaun’ claimed his fifth win, the WBO Inter-Continental and a Top 10 World ranking – and despite becoming a star in his own right is happy to build on the undercards of two of his closest pals.
Barnes wants to impress Stateside next on the purposed return to New York of Michael Conlan on St Patrick’s Day, and has suggested a fight on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s massive Windsor Park showdown next Summer.
“I’m hoping to get back out in March after I have a break over the Christmas. I’d like to get out on Mick’s [Conlan] undercard in New York if I can,” said Barnes after the fight before reflecting on a standout display and the crowd.
“It was unbelievable to fight in front of this Belfast crowd. It was unreal. I wanted to give the crowd something to shout about and hopefully I did that.”