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Brilliant Barnes on top of the world

By Frank Brownlow

Paddy Barnes has received a big boost ahead of his bid for an Olympic gold medal in Rio this summer by being named best fighter in World Series Boxing.

The Belfast light flyweight brought home bronze from Beijing 2008 and London 2012 - and is determined to land gold this time around.

After that the 28-year-old will weigh up what are sure to be several offers to turn professional.

"Pleasant surprise to be told I was awarded best boxer of the WSB season," he said.

Barnes, who already has two Commonwealth Games golds and one European gold safely tucked away, secured his place at the Rio Games through World Series Boxing, as did fellow Belfast boxer Michael Conlan, the pair fighting for the Italia Thunder outfit.

Five World Series Boxing wins out of five in 2015 were enough to guarantee Barnes a spot in Brazil.

Barnes will become the first Irishman to box at three Olympics, while close pal Conlan made his own piece of history last October when he became the first Irishman to win a World Amateur Championship, taking bantamweight gold in Doha.

Like Barnes, Conlan is expected to turn professional after the Rio Games.

The 24-year-old's brother Jamie is already a top professional while their dad John is a leading international coach.

The Rio Olympics begin on August 5 with Barnes and Conlan widely tipped for gold.

Belfast Telegraph

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