Boxing

Paddy Barnes laughs off doubters as he focusses on landing title on return to light-flyweight

Paddy Barnes is determined to land a title back at light-flyweight
Andy Watters

PADDY Barnes will chase a title at light-flyweight next year and says fight fans who doubt that he can get down to the seven and-a-half stone (49kg) weight limit “aren't educated enough to talk about it”.

Barnes won two Olympic Games medals at light-fly but chose to campaign as a professional at flyweight and even moved up to bantamweight for his most recent fight at Madison Square Garden in March.

‘The Leprechaun' will fight at flyweight on the upcoming Michael COnlan-headlined Feile an Phobail show at Falls Park on August 3 with a view to shedding the excess 2lb for a campaign at light-fly in 2020.

“My main focus for this fight at Feile is getting as close to flyweight as possible in order to get down to light-flyweight,” he explained.

“I'll be campaigning for titles at light-fly from now on, I probably should have been doing it my whole career but I tested the waters at flyweight and my last fight was at bantamweight. Light-fly is the weight I'll be fighting at from now on – it's the weight I've been most successful at as an amateur and it's the weight I can be most successful as a pro.”

Barnes has fought just once since August last year when he lost a world title bid against Cristofer Rosales at Windsor Park. He explained that he took the decision to drop back down to what he regards as his optimum fighting weight after undergoing tests while working with nutritionist Stephen Floyd.

“People say it will be hard for me to get down to light-fly but that's people who don't really know anything about sports science or diet,” he said.

“There are myths and old wives' tales that go around, people aren't educated enough to talk about it. I've done the tests. I've been to see a nutritionist who I'm working with now and I've done a resting metabolic rate (RMR) test to see how many calories I burn just resting, I've done blood tests to see if there's anything I'm deficient in and tests on my bone density to ensure that I can make the weight.

“If I couldn't make the weight then I wouldn't even try to do it and I got those tests done to ensure I can make it healthily. I'll be 51kg for the next fight but next year hopefully I can push on for a title at light-fly.”

Barnes considered retirement after losing to Oscar Mojica in a brave, but unsuccessful switch up to bantamweight in New York on St Patrick's Day but says his hunger is back as he resets his sights on light-fly glory.

“I was devastated when I lost at Madison Square Garden,” he said.

“But I was fighting a much bigger fella so my punches had less of an effect

“He did tell Jamie Conlan that I hurt him a few times but the first punch he landed changed the whole fight. He broke my nose in two places with the very first punch he threw but, to be honest, the blood didn't really affect me as much as people thought it did.

“People said I couldn't breathe but I can never breathe through my nose anyway! The blood was in my eyes but it didn't really affect my performance but the pain was excruciating – once I got a tip on it, it was like getting hit by a sledgehammer.

“I just had to pretend that it wasn't sore – as boxers do – and I'm looking forward to fighting somebody now who's my own size and my own weight.”

Barnes (5-2) intends to use the experience of that loss to his advantage as he sets out on the second chapter of a pro career that hasn't yet caught fire.

“I was fighting a much bigger fella and he wasn't a journeyman,” he said.

“ESPN said they weren't going to put me on the card unless I fought somebody good so that's why they got me that opponent (Mojica).”

He recently spent a week training with the Irish team that included former room-mate Kurt Walker who won gold at the European Championships in Minsk. Coaches Zaur Antia and John Conlan were able to teach him some new tricks.

“I was there for a week and I've learned two new moves,” he said.

“I'll be trying to incorporate them into my style now. I'm training away, training hard and all roads lead to the Feile now. It'll be packed out and it should be a great night because Belfast people love their boxing.”

THE fight between Kal Yafai and Jamie Conlan was often talked about, but it never happened, and on Saturday night the Birmingham fighter successfully defended his WBA super-flyweight title for a fifth time with a unanimous decision win over Norbelto Jimenez.

The 30-year-old admitted before the bout he would need to impress in Rhode Island to enhance his chances of securing a "massive fight", and again demonstrated his potential to fight some of the division's biggest names.

The 12-round fight was scored at 119-107, 118-108, 117-109 in favour of Yafai, who improved to 26-0 (15KOs) with the victory.

Yafai busily got to work on his 28-year-old mandatory opponent and looked comfortable through the opening rounds, frustrating Dominican Republic's Jimenez with a number of left hands to the body.

Jimenez, previously unbeaten in his last 30 fights, winning his last nine, was docked a point in the fourth round for excessive holding but did manage to rally in the fifth after an accidental head clash drew blood from Yafai's forehead.

The second-time title challenger was hurt in the eighth after receiving two low body blows from Yafai and again found himself on the canvas in the 12th as Yafai eventually wore down his challenger.

"I want the likes of (Juan Francisco) Estrada (current world champion), (Srisaket Sor) Rungvisai (former champion), Chocolatito (Roman Gonzalez, former four-division champion),” said Yafai.

"Those kinds of guys, they have to be next."

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