Paddy Barnes recalls the moment when he knew a teenage Ryan Burnett was destined for stardom

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With a five year age difference between them, Paddy Barnes and Ryan Burnett didn’t particularly cross over too much in the amateur ranks.

The two both boxed out of Holy Family in North Belfast, however Burnett was still in his mid teens when Barnes was breaking through to the Irish Senior team and winning major medals.

Flyweight Barnes however was definitely aware of a young talent rising through his club, and the Cliftonville man recalls one crystallising moment when he knew Burnett would be a star.

The new WBO European champion described to how “I remember something that will always stick with me about Ryan Burnett.”

“Back when he was only a Junior boxer and I was a Senior boxer for Ireland, I had loads of Irish vests and I was giving them away to the kids in the club. I said to Ryan ‘do you want one?’ and he goes ‘no, I’m going to get my own one!'”

“That stuck with me, he went and he won everything as a Youth, World finalist, Olympic gold, absolutely amazing.”

While Burnett would turn pro young, Barnes stayed with the vest, medaling twice each in the Olympics, Europeans, and Commonwealths. Burnett on the other hand has risen quickly through the paid ranks, claiming the British title, rankings belts with the WBC and WBO, before ruling the World.

Barnes was delighted to see his former club mate win world honours earlier this month when he dominated IBF bantamweight champion Lee Haskins at the SSE Odyssey Arena.

‘The Leprechaun’ said that “he’s so positive, and he trains so hard, it was good seeing him lift the world title.”

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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: