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Paddy plans to be World champion in record time

Boxing

By David Kelly

Published 17/09/2016

In a hurry: Paddy Barnes has his eye on the European crown before World title bid
In a hurry: Paddy Barnes has his eye on the European crown before World title bid

Confident Paddy Barnes says he's ready to burn up the flyweight division over the next 12 months after rubber stamping his decision to turn professional.

Double Olympic bronze medallist Barnes has revealed that he will be based across the water for his training and is eager to make his debut before Christmas.

The decision to turn professional comes after a glittering amateur career which ended after a weight-drained loss to Samuel Carmona in the Rio Olympics last month.

"I want to be European flyweight champion within five or six fights," said 29-year-old Barnes, who has had various offers down through the years to turn over to the paid ranks.

"The offers before were not good enough but this one is. The time is right for me to do this and I won't want to waste any time.

"I want to go straight in with a six rounder or even an eight rounder and I would hope that my debut will be before Christmas in Belfast.

"I'm going to start off at flyweight, hopefully move through the weights and probably end up bantamweight at the end of my career.

"I'll still be disappointed with not winning an Olympic gold medal but it wasn't meant to be. That will never leave me, but bringing back the world title is something that's just as recognisable. That will in some ways make up for it."

Apart from winning bronze at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the Belfast man also won Commonwealth and European gold medals and for the best part of a decade he was the top Irish light-flyweight.

The man who denied him gold in Beijing and London was China's Zou Shiming who is also now a professional and a fight between the two somewhere down the line is one that Barnes and boxing fans would relish.

"I obviously want to win a world title, but the fight that I really want is Zou Shiming," he added.

"He's the big money fight and he's the one who I'll be targeting. I want to win the world title, go to China and defend it against him."

An announcement is expected this week as to who Barnes will be signing with along with a date for his debut but the Belfast man admitted he is still working out who will coach him.

"I will train away from home because it makes sense - I can't afford to be distracted and that's what would happen if I stayed at home," he said.

"Being away in England will just be like the way things have been for years because I was down in Dublin at the IABA's High Performance Unit for the best part of the week so it's not going to be that big of a difference.

"It's not just about having no distractions, I need to get really good sparring and there's more chance of that in England and I'd also like to go to America and do some good sparring out there as well."

Michael Conlan, who is a close friend of fellow Belfast man Barnes, is also turning professional. The World Amateur Bantamweight Champion is in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Conlan, who was controversially judged to have lost his quarter-final at the Rio Olympics, is in America for a vacation but will be courted by Mayweather Promotions while he is there and has been invited to one of their shows tonight.

Mayweather Promotions was founded by legendary multiple world champion Floyd Mayweather and would be keen to sign up Conlan, who is a popular fighter around the globe.

Other promoters are also interested in Conlan, who has the potential and ability to go far in the pro ranks.

Belfast Telegraph

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