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Paddy Barnes: No pro offers

By David Kelly

He's Northern Ireland's most successful amateur ever, he's a two-time Olympic medallist and he's interested in turning professional – the one snag for Paddy Barnes is that nobody has made him an offer.

"I've never had an offer in my life," revealed Barnes has he prepared to leave for a training camp ahead of the World championships next month.

Fiery Barnes has enjoyed many great moments in the Irish vest and he is aiming for more glory at the World championships in Kazakhstan, along with fellow Belfast men, Michael Conlan, Tommy McCarthy and Sean McComb.

Rio 2016 has always been seen as another major goal for the gritty light-flyweight, but Barnes says he will do whatever is best for him and his family.

"I would be open to going pro, but it would have to be a brilliant offer. I have to do what is best for me, I'm 26 now and it's about securing my future," said Barnes.

Mentioning his age, Barnes knows that time is ticking on when it comes to carving out a professional career.

"At 26 I would be seen as old turning pro, but then at my weight and with my experience if I did go I'm sure that I would be fast-tracked.

"But it's up to somebody to make me an offer."

Having watched close friend Carl Frampton grab the professional spotlight over the past 18 months, Barnes would relish boxing in Belfast again – something he has been unable to enjoy due to a lack of competition at Ulster senior level.

If the professional move is to come about one would think that Barnes probably has another 12 months to make that decision before he then sets his sights on another Olympic medal at Rio – having bagged bronze in Beijing and London.

Now, the north-Belfast man is focused on his shot at glory in Kazakhstan and having won European silver earlier this year – missing the final through injury – Irish head coach Billy Walsh believes the little buzzsaw has a great chance of coming home with a medal.

"Paddy is in great shape, he has been working very hard and if he performs to his best there's no reason why he can't get a medal," said Walsh.

The top coach is confident that his nine-man squad can continue the success of the Irish team in recent years at major championships.

"The World Championships is always the toughest tournament, tougher than the Olympics. If the team perform to their full potential they're very capable of doing well," said Walsh (below).

"The lads proved themselves at the European Championships this summer. They took home two gold and two silver. If we'd had more luck with injuries we would probably have won more medals.

"Our squad is well capable of competing against the top nations.

"Kazakhstan are one of the top nations in world boxing. They won seven gold medals at the Asian Games this year and we're looking forward to working with them."

Tommy Murphy, President of the IABA, is quietly confident of success as well.

"It is going to be tough, but our lads have proved themselves at this level in the past and I have no doubt they will do so again," he said.

"The Russians, the Cubans and the Americans will be there along with our lads and the best from all the Continents."

Ireland squad: Light-flyweight: Paddy Barnes; Flyweight: Michael Conlan; Lightweight: Sean McComb; Light-welterweight: Ray Moylette; Welterweight: Adam Nolan; Middleweight: Jason Quigley; Light-heavyweight: Joe Ward; Heavyweight: Tommy McCarthy; Super-heavyweight: Con Sheehan.

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