Barnes is ready for big Paddy's Day celebration
Paddy Barnes says he is ready to light up New York on St Patrick's Day and spark his drive towards a second world title shot before the end of the year.
The Belfast man, 32 next month, suffered a painful loss to Cristofer Rosales in a WBC World flyweight title fight last summer at Windsor Park but believes he can be fast-tracked into another big night, with IBF champion Moruti Mthalane a major target.
The path to such an opportunity starts on Sunday night in Madison Square Garden with a six rounder against American Oscar Mojica, who despite a patchy record will be no pushover with the fight made at bantamweight.
"I know that I am capable of getting back into a world title fight very quickly. The loss to Rosales just made me more determined. I got stopped by a punch that was a perfect body shot and would have stopped anybody. Up to that point I proved that I belong at world level," said Barnes, who is naturally relishing the opportunity of boxing at Madison Square Garden.
"This guy I'm fighting will be a good fight for me. He's someone who likes to come and have a go so I think the fans in the Garden will enjoy it," he said.
"I've been to the Garden for all of Mick's (Conlan) fights and the atmosphere is just incredible - it's madness.
"It's as if half of Ireland is in New York. Having been there as a fan it's going to be great to be there fighting on the bill."
It's a big weekend for Irish fighters in the States as Katie Taylor defends her world lightweight title in Philadelphia in the early hours of Saturday morning on the undercard of Dubliner Jono Carroll challenging Tevin Farmer for the IBF super-featherweight belt.
The fight of the weekend, though, will be in Dallas when unbeaten stars Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia clash for the IBF welterweight title, live on ITV4 in the early hours of Sunday morning.