Barnes will strike gold and go on to be a world champion: Frampton
Having made his own piece of history last weekend, Carl Frampton says he now expects close friend Paddy Barnes to make his own indelible mark on boxing at the Rio Olympics.
Frampton is basking in the glory of his WBA World featherweight title victory over Leo Santa Cruz in the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York but his attention will now turn to Irish boxing captain Barnes who will be bidding to become the first Irish boxer to win medals at three different Games.
In Beijing 2008 and four years later in London, Barnes picked up bronze medals and next week he starts his campaign to try and strike gold in the light-flyweight division.
Frampton became the toast of New York with his win over three-weight world champion Santa Cruz and is convinced that should Barnes turn professional after the Games he can also be a hit with the American fight fans.
"The Americans would love him, Paddy makes people laugh - he makes them sit up and take notice of him so he'll sell tickets and he has an exciting fighting style with a great engine so the transfer from amateur to pro will not be that difficult," says Frampton.
"I think Paddy has a great chance of winning the gold. When you look at the light-flyweight division there's nobody there he can't beat.
"He's so strong at the weight, it's incredible that he can still make light-flyweight.
"Even getting to the Olympics, last year he had to have seven fights in about 14 weeks to qualify through the World Series of Boxing and to have to make weight that many times just shows you how dedicated he is.
"I really admire him and I hope he gets that gold medal, he deserves it.
"My dream was always to be a professional world champion - I couldn't have dreamed of being a two-weight world champion," adds Frampton.
Should Barnes, who carried the Irish flag at the opening ceremony in Rio last night, finally make the move into the professionals then Frampton believes he can move quickly into contention for world title success.
"Punching power is crucial in the pro game and Paddy can hit. I remember he was training in France ahead of a tournament we were in and he dropped the number one French light-flyweight and flyweight and that is very rare in amateur boxing," he says.
"He could go straight into eight rounders, there would be no need to hang about with Paddy - he would just need to gradually build his body up for 12 rounders.
"He has a relentless style that would see him throwing so much leather that he would break people down.
"I've no doubt that he can do it as a professional at the top level - he just has to be guided the right way and he knows if he needs any advice I am there for him but Paddy's his own man and he'll do it his way."
Frampton is now looking forward to some rest and relaxation with his family while his manager Barry McGuigan works out the next move forward with possible unification fights against the likes of IBF champion Lee Selby or WBC champion Gary Russell jnr in the mix along with a re-match against Santa Cruz.
"I love putting Northern Ireland on the map and I want to keep doing that," says the two-weight world champion.