Paddy Barnes to return to Olympic Games fighting weight

Paddy Barnes progressed to 5-2 as a flyweight but has lost his last two fights
Andy Watters

PADDY Barnes intends to return to light-flyweight, his Olympic Games fighting weight, to begin the second phase of his professional career.

The Leprechaun, who seriously considered retirement after losing at bantamweight in Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day, says he will have shed 4lbs to fight at 7'10” when he returns to the ring in the summer.

The Belfast fighter, who turned 31 yesterday, won bronze medals at the Beijing and London Olympic and gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games boxing at light-fly. It is his optimum fighting weight and, over two years on from his professional debut, he insists he will still be able to make it on the scales.

“I don't think anybody in the UK or Ireland has fought at the level I've fought so early in their career,” he said.

“In my first five fights I won two belts and in my sixth I fought for a world title. I'm going to move down to light-fly because that's the weight I've been most successful at and it's probably the weight I should have done starting off as a pro.

“I can do it, I did it through my whole amateur career with basically no nutritional advice. I found making light-fly as hard as I did making fly but now I have a nutritionist on board it's going to be a lot easier.

“When I boxed at light-fly in the amateurs I was a machine in the ring – I never tired in the ring and I was very strong and fit. It's my optimum weight, you have the likes of Charlie Edwards and Andrew Selby who were flyweights as amateurs and are fighting at flyweight now.

“I was always a light-fly so I think I can make it again and I think I could be a serious force at that weight. This year I'd like to be as active as I can at the new weight and then next year box for a world title hopefully at light-fly.”

Barnes had his nose broken by the bigger, stronger Oscar Mojica at ‘the Garden' in March and had considered walking away from the sport before taking stock and plotting a new course.

“I really was thinking about retirement after New York but the next day I talked to my management team and they said not to worry,” he explained.

“They said they all believed in me and they'd help me push on and do the best for my career.

“I'd say it'll be July/August before I'm out.

“I'd love to be on Feile bill (part of Feile an Phobail at Falls Park) because it would be a massive card and a massive event so it would be unbelievable to be on it.

Meanwhile, Marco McCullough will clash with Dublin's Declan Geraghty for the IBF European crown at the Ulster Hall on May 17.

The super-featherweight rumble between the former sparring partners is the second Belfast-Dublin clash of the year after Conrad Cummings versus Luke Keeler and Jamie Conlan, MTK Global Professional Development Coordinator predicts a treat for fight fans.

“We saw in the Cummings-Keeler fight the special atmosphere that Ulster Hall can produce,” said Conlan.

“In Marco against Deco, you have a genuine 50-50 title fight and I think we'll see the same cauldron-like environment to the one we witnessed with Cummings versus Keeler.

“A title battle between north and south never disappoints and I know we have some more huge fights to announce on the card. Boxing fans should get their tickets early and stay tuned.”

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