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Taste of American way has Paddy Barnes eager to be on fast track to the top

By David Kelly

The majority of fighters talking about a title shot in only their third bout would be scorned as foolhardy or downright delusional but Paddy Barnes is deadly serious.

A European gold medalist as an amateur, he is aiming to repeat such success as a professional — if his team are unable to land a fight with world ranked flyweight Edgar Sosa.

Barnes has made it clear to those around him that he wants to be truly challenged every time he enters the ring.

The Belfast man returns to the ring this Friday night at the Waterfront Hall in an eight rounder against Argentina’s Adrian Garzon, who 12 months ago went the distance with undefeated former European champion Kevin Satchell. The Frank Warren show is headed by Jamie Conlan in a 12-rounder with Yader Cardoza of Nicaragua.

Barnes joined Conlan (below) in Los Angeles for three weeks’ training last month before returning to his base in Glasgow where he is coached by Danny Vaughan. The trip Stateside proved profitable and reinforced the Belfast man’s belief that given the opportunity he would be ready for a shot at European flyweight champion Vincent Legrand of France.

“Being out in Los Angeles was great. I was sparring with a featherweight and a couple of super-bantamweights — they were all unbeaten and with a lot more fights than me but I was more than happy with how I handled myself,” said Barnes, who turns 30 next month.

“I know I’ve a lot to work on, making the transition from the amateurs to the pro game, but I feel that it’s going quickly and the work in LA made a big difference. The guys out there are top class, even the journeymen are quality, and it’s something that I would like to do again. I can see why Michael Conlan has based himself out in LA because it will be ideal for him.

“I realise now that I can’t just go charging out looking to overwhelm opponents, I need to slow down a little and plant my feet to get more power into my punches. I think the pro game is going to suit me because I have a good engine and I am serious about having a big fight next time.

“I’ve told my team that the two guys I really want are the European champion Legrand and the Mexican Edgar Sosa, who’s a former world champion. This fight on Friday night is an eight rounder because I need that so I am eligible to fight for titles.”

Barnes is expecting Argentinian Garzson to offer him a good test on Friday night, giving him the opportunity to show his potential on the back of his debut which ended in a disqualification for Bulgarian journeyman Stefan Slavchev last November.

“This time I’ve got a guy who’s actually coming to fight. I’ve made improvements since that fight and had a proper training camp for this one. The guy was good enough to go the distance with Kevin Satchell so he’s the kind of opponent I need,” added Barnes. “I’ve got some good support behind me and it’s important to me to be in good fights, to give the fans value for money.”

The supporting bill also features James Tennyson in an Irish super-featherweight title fight with Dubliner Declan Geraghty.

“It’s a 10-round fight, so I’m not going to go out there and try to blast him out. I’m going to go in and box, use my boxing ability, and if it goes to war it goes to war,” said Tennyson.

Also on the bill are Belfast men Marc McCullough, Tyrone McKenna, Steven Ward and Lewis Crocker who makes his professional debut at welterweight.

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