Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes has confirmed he is turning professional and leaving amateur boxing behind.
“Now it’s time to go pro, I’ve been in the amateurs too long and I want a new challenge,” the Belfast boxer told Paddy Power. “The experience was brilliant, but after a few Olympics I know what it’s like.”
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) September 16, 2016
He is already making plans from his professional debut.
“My debut will possibly be before Christmas in Belfast. It’s my home city so it would be great to begin my career there,” said Barnes.
“I’m going to start off at a flyweight, hopefully move through the weights and probably end up bantamweight at the end of my career.
Barnes also has revenge in mind - against the man who ended his gold medal hopes in both Beijing and London, Zou Shiming.
“I obviously want to win a world title, but the fight that I really want is the guy from China - Zou Shiming. He’s the big money fight and he’s the one who I’ll be targeting. I want to win the world title, go to China and defend it against him.”
The Belfast boxer is proud of his two Olympic medals but admitted that he “hated” Rio, describing the facilities in the Olympic village as “terrible” and blasted the AIBA - amataur boxing’s governing body.
“I hated Rio, the village was terrible. Beijing was amazing, London was amazing – but the Olympic village wasn’t even finished,” said Barnes.
“It was flooded half the time, it just wasn’t nice."
He also said the timetable leading up to his fight was not what he would have wished for.
“I thought my training was perfect. I went in, I made the weight ok – I struggled to lose a bit of it alright. The only thing which hampered me was that I weighed in at eight in the morning and I fought at 11am. So I’d three hours to recover and that’s something that I never had to do in my whole career.”
He continued: “You usually have at least seven or eight hours, three hours was just madness. It’s just the way AIBA set it out, it’s nothing I could have trained for.”
Even though professional boxers are now permitted at the Games, Barnes says his Olympic days are at an end,
“After watching what went on at Rio, where AIBA were officiating, amateur boxing is the same as it’s always been - it’s always been corrupt and it always will be corrupt. Nothing’s going to change. You might remove chief executives, but people behind the scenes will still be there and still be up to their dealings. They don’t care.”
You can read the full interview on the Paddy Power Blog.