Barnes was a noticeable absentee from the press conference to officially announce his fellow Olympic star’s Irish pro debut in Belfast today especially considering ‘The Leprechaun’ was advertised as an attendee.
With grudge matches between Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty and Tyrone McKenna and Philip Sutcliffe Jr, as well as an interesting clash between Paddy Gallagher and Gary Corcoran and a Celtic title fight for Tyrone McCullagh all announced at the Europa-hosted press conference the card is all but guaranteed to entertain.
However, Barnes’s addition would be a massive boost. Rumour had been rife that Frank Warren would confirm a WBO world flyweight title tilt for the popular wee man and the delayed announcement of Barnes on the card has managed to fuel speculation further.
The WBO European and Inter-Continental champion is ranked sixth with the organisation and many believe that the Cliftonville man is set to challenge champion Sho Kimura [16(9)-1(1)-2] of Japan – who currently has an empty schedule.
Warren had hinted at a ‘big title fight’ for the double Olympic bronze medal winner and the absence of Barnes today has led to suggestions that either the fight is of such a magnitude that it deserves its own press conference or that it will play out on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s Windsor Park August 18th fight night.
However, speaking in Belfast today Jamie Conlan suggested it’s only a matter of time before Barnes is confirmed on the June 30th BT broadcast card.
“I think so,” was Conlan’s response when asked about Barnes’s potential appearance on the eagerly anticipated fight night.
The professional development officer, who is still an active fighter, reasoned that “Michael and Paddy have been the Ant and Dec of Irish boxing growing up through the IABA and it would be fitting to have Paddy on the bill.”
“He [Barnes] has got something in the works and it’s ongoing – but there are big times ahead for everyone at the table, including Paddy Barnes.”