Carl Frampton: Paddy Barnes has what it takes to be a top professional boxer
It's going to be a big year for my mate Paddy Barnes and it’s now or never for him to turn professional.
Some may think it’s too late for Paddy to turn professional because he’s the same age as me but I honestly believe that he is still getting better.
Recently Paddy came over to my camp in London and we did a bit of sparring and I can see that he has got stronger and with the experience he has gained he’s also a smarter fighter — he would admit himself that in his early days he would have been a bit reckless.
Paddy’s got the Olympics and then he will go pro and I really believe it won’t take long for him to charge up the professional ladder.
He could fight for the World flyweight title within 10 fights.
Going to Rio for the Olympics, Paddy has the perfect shop window to show everyone in the States and here at home that he can become a star in the pro ranks.
For me the light-flyweight gold medal is there to be taken by Paddy — more so than any other boxer on the Irish team going to the Games I believe he is the one most certain of standing on top of the podium.
Obviously as World champion Michael Conlan is favourite for the bantamweight gold and I hope he does it but there are guys in his division who he would like to see in the other half of the draw, the Cuban and the American, but with Paddy I’ve looked down the list of contenders and you just say, ‘he’ll beat him, beat him, beat him...’ he’s head and shoulders above anyone in the light-flyweights.
When the Olympics is over, it will then be time for him to make the right decision about who he goes with as a pro.
Light-flyweight and flyweight are hard divisions to make big money in as a professional but Paddy is such a character and a good fighter that he can become a star. He’s a real life leprechaun after all!
The Americans would love him, he 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.
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.
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 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.
With Paddy what you get is what you see and it’s going to be exciting to see what the next 12 months bring for him.