PADDY Barnes should grab a world title opportunity “with both hands” if it comes his way this summer says former two-weight British champion Hugh Russell.
Reacting to speculation that Barnes is close to confirming a challenge for Sho Kimura’s WBO belt, Russell backed his Holy Family ABC clubmate to follow in the footsteps of the great Rinty Monaghan and Dave 'Boy' McAuley by becoming a flyweight world champion.
“Paddy is young enough in his pro career in terms of fights, he has an old head on young shoulders,” said Russell, like Barnes an Olympic Games medallist.
“He has a lot of experience and he’d be the first to tell you that three was probably one Olympics too many if he was going to take his time as a pro.
“He has to take the opportunities when they come up and I don’t think his lack of experience will let him down. If the opportunity comes he should grab it with both hands.”
Barnes moved to 5-0 when he stopped highly-rated Eliecer Quezada in November last year and he could get his world title shot in May. His performance at the SSE Arena that night convinced Russell that ‘The Leprechaun’ is ready for the step up to world level.”
“His last fight was a different Paddy Barnes,” said Russell.
“It was the first time I’d seen Paddy box as a pro and he was excellent. He’s as good as any flyweight in Europe so why not go for the world title?
“To get an opportunity on Irish soil would be massive and I think he would be delighted.”