Video: Fiancé's illness overshadows Paddy Barnes' professional debut
WITH his mind on his fiancé Marie and new-born daughter in hospital, Paddy Barnes admits he’ll have to survive on his fighting instincts for his professional debut on Saturday night.
Barnes’ fiancé had been admitted to hospital eight weeks’ ago and has been ill since she gave birth to the couple’s second child last week. The two-time Olympic gold medallist admitted he would have pulled out of his flyweight opener against Stefan Slachev had it been anywhere other than Belfast.
The flyweight says he intends to blow Slachev away at the Titanic Exhibition Centre and doesn’t expect the flyweight rumble to go the scheduled six rounds.
“Family is more important than sport,” said Barnes.
“My fiancé has been in hospital for eight weeks up to now. She was really sick after the birth, so I’m looking forward to getting this fight out of the way.
“It has been stressful enough. Obviously worrying about Marie and the child and fitting things in around training, so it has been tough. I’ve trained enough, but I have the talent no matter what happens. If I didn’t train for a year I could probably still go in and do six rounds so I’m not worried.”
With his apprenticeship served at the very top of the amateur game and in the World Series of Boxing, Barnes doesn’t intend to hang around as a pro. He says he would take on former Olympic Games foe Zou Shiming in his second fight.
“Best case scenario is Shiming winning the world title on Saturday night [he fights Thai star Prasitsak Phaprom in Las Vegas] and Top Rank agreeing to give me a fight with him in China, that’s the only thing I want,” he said.
“I would take that in my second fight, no problem. Obviously that’s never going to happen - but as soon as possible. My second or third fight could be an eight-rounder, so I’ll be eligible for a title. I’ll be ready for the title straight away.
“I’m not too optimistic because Shiming is Top Rank’s cash cow at the minute - they don’t want him to lose. Putting him in with me is a big risk, so I can’t really see it happening. I’ll have to push it so he has no choice but to take the fight.”
Barnes is expected to feature on the undercard of Michael Conlan’s pro debut at Madison Square Garden, New York on St Patrick’s weekend next year. There is even speculation that he’ll appear on close friend Carl Frampton’s rematch with Leo Santa Cruz in late January.
“I’m with MGM and they’re the best management team in the world,” said the north Belfast flyweight.
“They delivered Charlie Edwards a world title fight in his ninth fight and I have a better background than he has so I think they’ll deliver for me just as quick.”
Barnes and Michael Conlan have swelled an Irish pro scene that is already bursting at the seams with talents: “If you’re talking about me, Carl, Jamie, Michael, Ryan Burnett, there’s nowhere in Ireland - Belfast anyway - big enough to hold something of that scale,” he said.
“Croke Park maybe, but that’s probably the only place. Casement Park, if it ever gets built, maybe.”
Meanwhile, Jamie Conlan admits he was “deflated” after he was forced to box an eight-round non-title fight on Saturday night because of a change of opponent.
‘The Mexican’ was schedule to defend his hard-won Commonwealth super-flyweight title against Tanzanian Julias Kisarawe, but will instead face Hungarian David Koos.
“My family made me understand the importance of Saturday night and the importance of Saturday night in things to come,” he said.
The ‘Homecoming’ bill features a bumper crop of Irish pros also includes the pro debut of Steven Ward as well as Marc McCullough, Tyrone McKenna v Sean Creagh, James Tennyson, Declan Geraghty, Phillip Sutcliffe, Con Sheehan, Stephen Ormond, Sean Turner and Gary Sweeney.