Paddy Barnes closing in on world flyweight title showdown

Paddy Barnes is closing in on a world title challenge this summer
Paddy Barnes is closing in on a world title challenge this summer

PADDY Barnes is closing in on a world title challenge this summer.

The Irish News understands that Barnes is in talks with three of the flyweight division world champions and hopes to bring one to Belfast, possibly in May.

Daigo Higa (WBC), Donnie Nietes (IBF) and Sho Kimura (WBO) are the three targets for Barnes with Kimura (16-1-2), who won his belt by beating Barnes’ former Olympic Games nemesis Zou Shiming in July last year, reckoned to be top of the shortlist.

29-year-old Japanese Kimura travelled to Shanghai as a relative unknown in July last year, but ripped the WBO belt out of Shiming’s hands by stopping him in the 11th round. He has since defended the title against Toshiyuki Igarashi in December.

In January, Barnes made his intentions clear when he tweeted Kimura: “I’m sure you are due to have a voluntary defence, I’m number 10 with WBO, wanna fight?”

Barnes is now ranked at eight by the WBO and hasn’t hung around since he turned pro after the Rio De Janeiro Olympics and he moved to 5-0 when he outclassed and stopped Eliecer Quezada to win the WBO Inter-Continental flyweight title in November last year.

Speaking to The Irish News yesterday, the north Belfast fighter, was unable to confirm his immediate plans, but said: “I won’t be on the Frampton-Donaire bill (April 21) I’m looking at a different fight and hopefully there’ll be an announcement soon.”

Barnes has no plans to box before the summer. The two-time Olympic medallist and Commonwealth Games gold medal winner had a two-week camp in Marbella, Spain recently and says he doesn’t require a ‘tune-up’ fight to prepare for his world title shot, if it comes off.

“I’ll be training away and I’ve been boxing all my life so I don’t need a warm-up fight,” he said.

“I’ll use the time to work on new stuff, we had a good camp there and training went very well.

“I’ve been working on my defence, I think it improved a lot for the last fight and once it’s correct I can’t see anyone beating me.

“In the last fight (against Quezada) I felt like I had it under control and I was defending well. So once it’s up to scratch, I’m confident against anyone. The first four fights with the smaller gloves felt a bit strange, but now I’m used to it and I’m more confident getting into the ring because I have the experience of fighting as a professional now.

“The Quezada fight gave me a lot of confidence because he was no pushover. The WBO made that fight, I didn’t pick him. He was higher ranked than me and the WBO said he should go for the inter-continental title because he had beaten some good boxers.

“For me to stop him like I did (in the sixth of 10 scheduled rounds) was a statement.”

Barnes came of age in that fight. Cheered on by a raucous Belfast crowd, he was on the front foot from the first bell and his all-action style broke Quezada down before he ruthlessly stopped him near the end of the sixth.

“As soon as I get something confirmed I’ll step my training up,” he said.

“I’m hopeful it’ll be in Belfast and if it is boxing will be booming because there’ll be the Frampton fight and I’ll be fighting so it’ll be brilliant for all the fans.

“At the last fight (Quezada in November) I had a massive support behind me and it was a bonus that I performed at my best and the crowd loved it. I’m hopeful they’ll come out and watch me again against a better opponent.”

RYAN Burnett will defend his WBA Super World Bantamweight title against Yonfrez Parejo at Principality Stadium in Cardiff on March 31, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Burnett added the WBA crown to his IBF belt with a brilliant performance in a unification clash with Zhanat Zhakiyanov in his hometown of Belfast in October, following hot off the heels of his masterclass against Lee Haskins in June to rip the IBF crown from the Bristolian to become World champion.

After claiming the WBA strap, Burnett had two mandatories due and will now meet Venezuelan Parejo on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s Heavyweight unification blockbuster against Joseph Parker in the Welsh capital.

“I’m delighted to be added to this show it’s going to be an incredible experience to defend my World title in front of 80,000 in Cardiff,” said Burnett.

“I don’t really get involved in the politics but we knew that when we face Zhakiyanov that is was likely we may have to vacate one of the belts because of mandatories but I’ve unified the division and now we move on to new challenges.

“I expect a tough fight against Parejo, our styles should gel for a great fight and I’m looking forward to making another statement on March 31.”

Burnett’s promoter Eddie Hearn added: “The IBF called an interim title bout between Rodriguez and Haskins so we proceeded to make the fight with our WBA mandatory Parejo.

“Last week we were notified that that bout would no longer take place and that Rodriguez team were not willing to negotiate and they called immediate purse bids.

“Our deal was already in place with Parejo so we will vacate our IBF title and continue to face our WBA mandatory.”

PAUL Hyland jnr will take another step towards the British title he craves if he gets past Floyd ‘Pacman’ Moore on April 14.

MHD Promotions, in association with A McLean’s Bookmakers, have confirmed that Hyland will headline their ‘Collision’ show at the Europa Hotel.

Current IBF European belt holder Hyland (17-0) returns from a broken jaw to take on big punching Moore (15-6-2) of Fareham in England over 12x3 minute rounds.

Moore is a two-time Southern Area champion who last tasted defeat back in 2014 to former British champion Gary Buckland in the quarter-final of a Matchroom’s Prizefighter and has since racked up five wins and a draw.

With both contenders highly ranked a victory would all but guarantee the winner a shot at the British Title making the contest even more exciting for both camps and the fans.

“Moore is very exciting and always comes to fight,” said promoter Mark Dunlop.

“With nine wins by knockout he believes he only needs one clean punch to earn a victory over Hyland jnr. Paul thinks that Matchroom are avoiding him after they signed new British champion Lewis Ritson on a promotional deal and granted a voluntary defence to Manchester’s Joe Murray even though Murray withdrew from a BBBofC ordered eliminator with Ritson last year.”

James Tennyson, who is staying active while he awaits the result of the WBA super-featherweight title between Alberto Machado and Rafael Mensah (believed to have been rescheduled for May 5 on the Gennady Glolovkin v Canelo Alvarez rematch bill) has been confirmed on the undercard.

“Anything can happen him boxing and Tennyson will be ready to go on that date should the Machado versus Mensah fight fall apart,” Dunlop added.

Also on the undercard are Daniel ‘Insane’ McShane who is hoping to push his career on following his recent revenge victory over Zoltan Horvath and Coalisland talent ‘Fearless’ Feargal McCrory.

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