Paddy Barnes hoping to follow Vasyl Lomachenko's lead by landing title in just his third fight
WBO European flyweight title: Paddy Barnes (2-0-0) v Silvio Olteanu (16-11-1) (tonight, 10.30 approx, live on Boxnation)
SILVIO Olteanu may say that Paddy Barnes is no Vasyl Lomachenko, but the three-time Olympian hopes to follow in the great Ukrainian’s footsteps by landing a title in just his third professional fight.
Lomachenko is one of the sport’s greatest-ever amateur boxers and, after failing to win the WBO world featherweight title in just his second fight, made no mistake against Gary Russell jr the next time.
Barnes hasn’t moved on to world level just as quickly but, after a stellar amateur career that saw him land two Olympic bronze medals, he takes on the experienced Olteanu for the vacant WBO European title at the Waterfront Hall tonight.
In against journeymen for his first two fights, both six rounders, Barnes found the experience frustrating and asked to be fast-tracked, insisting his performances will improve the better the opponent he faces.
Tonight, he has to back up that claim.
Stepping up to 10 rounds, Barnes takes on an opponent who has mixed it at a decent level across a 12-year pro career.
After losing his first three fights, the Madrid-based Romanian won his next 11, leading to a world title shot against Japan’s Daiki Kameda in 2010.
Home favourite Kameda got the nod on a split decision; Olteanu felt he had been hard done by.
Despite having 11 defeats on his record, the 39-year-old has only been stopped twice – the first time when he stepped up to super-flyweight to face Paul Butler two years ago, the second when cuts ended his challenge against the Ukraine’s Artem Dalakian.
Barnes admits the step up to training for a 10-round title fight was a shock to the system initially, but believes he will be able curb his attacking instincts to ensure he doesn’t run out of gas late on.
“It has been different,” said the 30-year-old.
“I’d never sparred 10 rounds in my life until this camp – the first five I was wrecked, but I adjusted and learned to pace myself.
“I did 10 comfortably against Ryan Farrag who’s an ex-European bantamweight champion, so I’m used to it now.”
Although Barnes may be the big draw for the Belfast crowd tonight, the battle of the unbeaten Jono Carroll and John Quigley could steal the show.
The braggadocious Carroll is clearly a disciple of the Conor McGregor school of trash-talking, but found himself temporarily on the back foot when Quigley criticised his beard.
Scouser Quigley added that he should be allowed to wear a cushion on his chin if Carroll’s beard was still in situ by the time they entered the ring tonight.
“Seriously, this a well maintained beard, I’ve got oil and all in here. It was nearly harder than training to get that,” said the Dubliner.
“You can have a cushion on all you want mate, I’m going to hit you on the temple and that’ll be that.”
Elsewhere, Carroll’s fellow Dubliner Stephen Ormond will attempt to win the WBO European title when he takes on Welshman Craig Evans, with Ormond hoping victory could put him in the frame for a rematch with Manchester’s Terry Flanagan.
There is also a professional debut for Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce, while exciting prospect Lewis Crocker faces Radoslav Mitev in his second fight.
Derry super-middle Sean McGlinchey, a 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, is also aiming to go 2-0 against Dan Blackwell.
TV coverage begins on Boxnation at 7pm
Super-middleweight: Sean McGlinchey (1-0-0) v Dan Blackwell (7-64-0)
Welterweight: Lewis Crocker (1-0-0) v Radoslav Mitev (9-31-1)
Lightweight: David Oliver Joyce (debut) v Gabor Kovacs (25-9-1)
Light-heavyweight: Steven Ward (3-0-0) v Istvan Orsos (16-40-2)
Super-lightweight: Tyrone McKenna (13-0-1) v Ferenc Katona (8-6-1)
Lightweight (WBO European title): Craig Evans (holder, 16-1-2) v Stephen Ormond (24-3-0)
Super-featherweight (vacant IBF East/West Europe title): Jono Carroll (13-0-0) v John Quigley (14-0-0)
Flyweight (vacant WBO European title): Paddy Barnes (2-0-0) v Silvio Olteanu (16-11-1)