Boxing

Cristofer Rosales warns Paddy Barnes not to run away 'like a wee chicken' in Windsor world title showdown

Promoter Frank Warren with Paddy Barnes and WBC World flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales at Windsor Park yesterday. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

THROUGHOUT his stellar amateur and professional career Paddy Barnes has earned the reputation as a non-stop pressure fighter – yet Cristofer Rosales has urged the north Belfast man not to run away “like a wee chicken” when they face off tomorrow night.

After just five pro fights, the two-time Olympic bronze medallist makes a huge step up in class when he takes on the 23-year-old Nicaraguan, who holds the WBC world flyweight belt.

With that title up for grabs, Barnes stands on the edge of history as he looks to follow in the illustrious footsteps of men like fellow former amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko by becoming a world champion inside 10 fights.

Rosales travelled to Yokahama back in April and stunned the previously undefeated belt-holder - and home favourite - Daigo Higa, stopping the Japanese in the ninth round.

He is a man who comes to fight and at yesterday’s Windsor Park press conference predicted, during a humorous exchange conducted through a translator, that he would eventually stop Barnes.

“I am used to fighting outside of my town, it’s no bother. In the ring, it’s only going to be me and Paddy, that’s it. I’m coming to retain my title,” he said.

“I know enough [about Barnes]. I know what I need to win on Saturday. I’m ready to take my victory, to take my belt home. I want Paddy to dictate the pace and then when Paddy acts the way he will act, I will catch him.”

“Well, if he lets me dictate, the pace, it’s going to be my fight,” replied a bemused looking Barnes.

“If I’m dictating the pace, I’m going to be controlling the distance and there’s no way I’m going to slip up so… thanks mate.”

That retort drew a huge roar from the crowd, who were packed into one of the suites overlooking the pitch where all the action will unfold on Saturday night.

But Rosales wasn’t done yet, issuing a word of warning that suggested he wasn’t overly familiar with how Barnes goes about his business between the ropes, saying: “Don’t go running about like a wee chicken”.

Away from the pre-fight back and forth, Barnes predicted his clash with Rosales would steal the show – a show that also includes former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury and his good friend Carl Frampton.

“It’s going to be a great fight,” he said.

“Cristofer’s style, he’s relentless, my style is relentless so it should make it a great fight. It’s definitely going to be fight of the night.”

The bookies fancy Rosales to hold onto his belt, with Barnes available at odds of 2/1. But the 31-year-old has plenty of reason to be confident, especially having sparred regularly with Kal Yafai in the lead-up to this fight.

The reigning WBA super-flyweight champion is one of only three men to beat Rosales with a close points win in Sheffield three years ago, and Barnes’s trainer Danny Vaughan described those spars with the unbeaten Brummie as “frightening”.

Barnes and Rosales also have one shared opponent, Eliecar Quezada - with the Belfast man coming off the better.

He stopped the Nicaraguan in the sixth round at the SSE Arena last November, while Rosales only defeated his compatriot on a split decision in March 2017.

Vaughan is unlikely to be reading much into that, but expects Barnes to be at his absolute best tomorrow.

“He’s in fine form,” said Vaughan.

“The camp we’ve had has been unbelievable, Paddy’s given his heart and soul to this camp and we’re looking for a big performance from him on Saturday night. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been.”

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