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How does Paddy Barnes celebrate WBO belt success?

By David Kelly

There was only one way for Paddy Barnes to celebrate his impressive victory on Saturday night and that was indulging in a McDonald's feast at 2am.

Barnes picked up the WBO inter-continental flyweight title and a top 10 ranking in only his fifth fight after stopping Eliecer Quezada, from Nicaragua in the sixth round. Barnes had floored his game opponent in the second from a right hand and at the end of the fifth Quezada sank to the canvas after Barnes connected with a sizzling left hook to the body. Referee Steve Grey took up the count and the bell sounded as Quezada was counted out at an official time of 3:06.

The Belfast man looked much more professional in the manner he went about his work, casting off his old amateur ways as he picked his punches with a more measured approach that consequently led to them having a greater impact.

Having battled hard, as always, to make the flyweight limit and delivering a performance he was proud of, Barnes and wife Mari felt he deserved a treat. "I had a cheeseburger meal and a chicken McNuggets and then ate Mari's cheeseburger meal because she fell asleep," quipped Barnes. "I think I've gone from flyweight to welterweight overnight!"

As for his performance and the pace he is moving towards a world title shot, Barnes believes he could hardly be in a better place going into 2018.

"I always said that I would fight better when I was facing someone who would come and have a fight and this guy did. In his last fight, he went the distance in a Latino title fight so he was there to win and I got him out of there," added Barnes.

"I liked the fact that I was back to my natural self of being a pressure fighter. I felt I could go out and give a performance like that because of the fight I had in June when I went 10 rounds. Getting through those 10 rounds made me believe that I could go out and put the pressure on, just let things flow.

"Before I was throwing a lot of flurries but this time I was sitting down on my punches more and I felt that I hurt the guy in the first round and when I landed that body shot in the sixth I knew that he wasn't getting up.

"I'm going into the WBO's top 10 and I think, realistically, that I could be fighting for a world title this time next year. If a world title came along next I wouldn't turn it down, but ideally, I would like a couple of fights and then a world title shot."

For the first time, Barnes enjoyed boxing alongside close friend Carl Frampton as a professional and admitted that he had never enjoyed a reception quite like the one he received from the fans at the SSE Arena.

"The fans were amazing, the way they got behind me when I came out into the arena was unbelievable.

"You can see that when it comes to a Carl Frampton fight night in Belfast it is a real event, people are there to have a good time as much as enjoy the boxing, and if I could, I'd enjoy that every week.

"I've boxed in front of some great audiences but I haven't had an atmosphere like that before for any of my fights.

"The way they chanted my name and got behind me was inspirational. It does make you want to go out and entertain.

"I think I did that with this performance and there has been a good reaction to the win. Hopefully I'm back out again in March."

Quezada was dropped by a chopping right hand to the chin in the final seconds of the second round, taking a count of eight just before the bell sounded.

The Belfast man let rip with flashing left and right hooks in the fourth, stinging Quezada who didn't offer back the same work rate as he had shown in the previous rounds.

Early in the fifth, a time-out was called by referee Steve Gray due to a low blow by Barnes who received a warning before resuming his task of walking down his opponent.

Then in the sixth, Barnes found that devastating left hand to the ribs which took all the resistance out of Quezada.

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