Paddy Barnes targets big name – “He’ll probably knock me out but I think I could beat him!”

Paddy Barnes [3(0)-0] will soon return to training ahead of a return on a big BT Sport card, and the Belfast flyweight has an opponent in mind.

‘The Leprechaun’ claimed the WBO European title in his last outing, coming through a tough fight with Silvio Olteanu at the Waterfront Hall.

That win handed Barnes the #14 position in the WBO’s rankings and he now wants to add one of the more major rankings belts and move up the ladder in search of a fight with Chinese champion cash cow and former foe Zhou Shiming.

The International and Inter-Continental belts are both vacant with the organisation and Barnes wants to take on a big opponent.

After three fights in Belfast, his next appearance will be overseas, with the 30 year explaining that “I’m in talks with MTK and it’s looking like October maybe, in England.”

“I can’t fight on Sky Sports, so it’s a BT Sport show.”

“I actually kind of prefer it [to fighting in Belfast]. Bigger shows and I don’t need to worry about selling out the venue. Plus I’ve fought away all my whole life.”

Outlining his plans for his next fight, Barnes told that “hopefully I’ll be going for an International [belt] or something.”

“Actually there’s someone to fight, and I know Matthew [Macklin, manager] is going to give me it because he believes in me, a South African, Moruti Mthalane, he’s IBO champion.

“He’s fought Donaire and all these boys and he’s fifth in the world [on BoxRec].”

The former undefeated IBF champion, who holds wins over the likes of current WBO bantamweight titlist Zolani Tete and John Riel Casimero, would represent massive ask for Belfast’s Barnes.

The Cliftonville man acknowledges this but stated that “I want to fight him. I’ve watched him, he’s fit, he’s good, he’ll probably knock me out but, I don’t care, I think I could beat him!”

“We’ll harass him on Twitter and get the fight going!” he added with a smirk.

Barnes got married to childhood sweetheart Mari following his last win and, following a honeymoon to Dubai, he is refreshed and ready to continue his rapid rise.

Reflecting on his Olteanu victory, Barnes noted that “it was mentally tough, I’d never even sparred ten rounds and that’s why my performance wasn’t great.”

“I was more focused on going ten rounds than I was with performing.”

“I just can’t wait to fight again, get more belts, and hopefully Zhou Shiming is at the end of the tunnel.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: