Wedding bells to follow after Paddy Barnes’ title triumph

Wedding bells will chime for Paddy Barnes next month, meaning the three-time Olympian will rest until September after the final bell rang on his first professional title success last Saturday night.

Paddy Barnes, right, is pumped up during his WBO European flyweight title bout at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

The three-time Olympian claimed the WBO European flyweight belt in his native Belfast with a majority points decision over Madrid-based Romanian Silvio Olteanu at the Waterfront Hall.

That continental stepping-stone title will move the undefeated 30-year-old (now 3-0) into the WBO’s top 15 rankings, meaning he will soon be eligible to fight for that governing body’s world title should the opportunity arise.

That WBO champion is Zou Shiming – China’s double Olympic champion, who defeated Barnes in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 semi-finals – and the Irishman has stated that his ultimate ambition is to fight his old Olympic rival within 10 professional bouts.

“It’s still on – believe it,” said Barnes of his grand plans, which will be temporarily postponed over the summer as the 30-year-old is due to marry fiancé Mari next month. “I’m not too sure when I’ll be back out… I’d say it’ll be September in Belfast again,” continued the Matthew Macklin-managed fighter.

“I’ll fight anywhere. Obviously, I love fighting in Belfast but I’d love to fight in England on a few big shows too,” added Barnes.

Though Olteanu is 39 years old, the Romanian – who carried a 16-11-1 record into the bout, coming off the back of two losses – presented a tough challenge for the home favourite at such a relatively early stage of his pro career. Former European champion and world-title challenger Olteanu produced an energetic display that belied his age, landing a number of clean shots on Barnes.

“It was a hard fight, I’m not going to lie,” said the Belfast man. “He hit me a few times with a few shots, but I was able to deal with it and deal with the pressure. I’m happy that I got 10 rounds under my belt against a hard fighter,” added the 30-year-old, who was competing over that distance for the first time, having previously boxed a maximum of five rounds in AIBA’s ‘semi-pro’ style World Series of Boxing.

“It was in my head that it was a long way to go and he was charging forward, but when I had my hands up and was standing there, he couldn’t hurt me.”

Judges Phil Edwards (97-94) and Zoltan Enyedi (97-93) scored the right for Barnes, with Olteana’s Romanian compatriot Mihai Leu calling it a 95-95 draw.

Olteana, who made a mockery of some bookies’ lop-sided 1/100 pre-fight odds for Barnes, said: “It’s not the toughest fight I’ve had… But if he [Barnes] has good management and a good promoter he could go far.”

After just three fights since turning pro last November, Barnes’ trainer Danny Vaughan was enthused.

“I’d give him a seven out of 10 for the performance,” said Vaughan. “He took a fight of this magnitude in his third fight when he could be like everybody else, getting a padded record… He showed a lot of balls.”

Another Rio Olympian, David Oliver Joyce, made an impressive pro debut on the undercard, stopping Hungarian Gabor Kovacs in just two rounds.

Undefeated Dublin super-featherweight Jono Carroll won the fight of the night, claiming a split-decision points victory after putting fellow southpaw Johnny Quigley on the canvas twice in the second round.

Dublin lightweight Stephen Ormond was also dropped twice - in the final round of his WBO European lightweight bout, losing a unanimous decision to Wales’ Craig Evans.

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