Boxing

Paddy Barnes looks forward to fighting on the same bill as Carl Frampton

Paddy Barnes celebrates his win over Silvio Olteanu in June. 'The Leprechaun' takes on Spain-based Peruvian Juan Hinostroza (5-7-1) in Edinburgh on Saturday night

PADDY Barnes, who fights Spain-based Peruvian Juan Hinostroza (5-7-1) in Edinburgh on Saturday night, admits he never thought he'd appear on the same bill as Carl Frampton.

But two-time Olympic gold medallist Barnes and two-weight world champion Frampton – best friends and former stablemates at Belfast's Holy Family ABC - will feature on the same fight poster for the first time on November 18.

Barnes defends his WBO European flyweight title that night while Frampton makes his long-awaited return to the ring under new management and with Jamie Moore now in his corner.

“I'll be honest, I never, ever thought I would fight on a Frampton bill because of Cyclone,” said Barnes.

“But now he has seen the light and he is with team that have a lot to offer him.”

Frampton mulled over several managerial offers after splitting with Cyclone Promotions before signing with the MTK stable that had snapped up Barnes when he turned pro last year.

“Carl is his own man, he's a smart fella and he has talked to a lot of people,” said Barnes.

“Obviously I'm his friend and we give each other advice all the time but ultimately it was all down to Carl.

“It's brilliant, because we've been friends growing up from no-age through boxing and we're still best mates. So it's brilliant to be on the same bill. I'd probably be more excited than him because obviously he's a big name, so I think it's great.”

Their friendship dates back to their early amateur days. Barnes started out at East Coast ABC while Frampton fought out of the Midland club in Tigers Bay. They fought four times and Frampton is 3-1 up, but Barnes disputes one of those wins.

“It's 3-1 to him, officially, unofficially it should be 2-2,” he said.

“I was definitely robbed – his coach was Antrim president, so I had no chance. If it had of been now I would be alright – my da (Paddy senior) is Antrim president.

“After that we trained in Holy Family and we were on the Irish team together –we roomed together. I hated rooming with him, he used to sing all the time and it drove me insane.”

Barnes, now 3-0, is in action at the Meadowbank Arena in Edinburgh on Saturday night and says he's hoping for a “keep-busy” fight against Hinostroza to help his preparations for November 18.

Hinostroza, durable and tough, took Charlie Edwards the distance a couple of years ago and Barnes will welcome another competitive fight. He won his WBO title in a cracking rumble in June against Spanish bull Silvio Olteanu and wants another quality opponent for the ‘Frampton Reborn' show.

“I looked at Olteanu's record and who he had fought and who they had fought and I knew watching him he was a serious step up,” he said.

“But I thought I was ready for the step up, and I was. In the fight I thought I won every round but after watching it back I thought I won it by three rounds.

“I was more focussed on getting through the rounds because I hadn't even sparred 10 rounds because I hurt my tongue. I was more focussed on getting through the fight than I was on performing but I thought I did enough to win and I'm glad I got through because it has given me a lot of experience of going that kind of distance.

“I'm at my best against somebody who's not a journeyman so I'm more than happy with that and I want the same level as that again, maybe even better.

“I offered that fight to a lot of people and a lot of people turned it down so I've been lucky to even fight more that belt. I'm just happy that he took it on.”

FIVE years into his pro career and, for the first time, Paddy Gallagher says he feels “like an actual professional boxer”.

Since signing with MTK in April, fights have come thick and fast for Belfast's welterweight entertainer who defends his Celtic Nations title against 12-0 Gary Murray at Edinburgh's Meadowbank Sports Centre on Saturday night.

His all action style has won him a lot of admirers in the ring and he was typically bullish when he looked ahead to tangling with Coatbridge native Murray whose dozen wins have all come on points.

“I'm just going to go in there and do what I want to do,” said Gallagher.

“I'm just going to beat him up and put in an amazing performance and finish him in six rounds.

“In the press conference, I said I would give him until the sixth if even that far, so I will stick to that.”

‘Pad Man' (11-3) won the Celtic title back in May 2016 and sees Saturday night's rumble as a chance to consolidate the ground he has made over the last six months.

“I've been flat out,” he said.

“I never thought I would be as good as I was back in the day, but I think I'm getting better. I signed with MTK in April and about a week later I was confirmed for the Burnett show and then a few days later, I was confirmed for the Frampton show.

“That didn't happen, but a week later I was confirmed for this Edinburgh show. I'm sure I will be confirmed for another one before this fight even.

“I have never had as good management and fights, so it's been unreal. It's weird feeling like an actual professional boxer five years in.”

Gallagher says his fitness has improved after weeks of hard work in the gym with coach Gerard McManus. Increased stamina will be essential if he is to bridge the gap between producing explosive cameos and sustained challenges over 10 or 12 rounds.

“I want to get rounds too,” he said.

“Not only has my boxing ability improved, but I am doing things I haven't before.

“Gerard has helped me fix things, he has done amazing work with me and it's all starting to click together now.

“I was getting stressed in sparring a few weeks ago saying to Gerard to stop making me do this and that, but he said it was going to work and the last two weeks it has.

“I'm going to go in here, get the rounds behind me because I have only had three rounds in the last year. I'll have six this week then all being well, I can get a good title shot, a 10 or 12-rounder and take a break for Christmas.

“In February I want to be out again, so I have almost got my next two years planned.”

He added: “I want to rack up the titles from there, going belt-by-belt and work towards a world title all being well.

“People said (IBF super-fly challenger) Jamie Conlan would never get this chance, but he has. It shows you it can happen.

“Over the next while, he is going to be a world champion, Frampton will be again next year, (Ryan) Burnett is going to be a world champion. So, all being well, that will be me in 2019.”

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