I’m going into the deep end, declares fearless Paddy Barnes

Paddy Barnes is keen to silence his doubters when he returns to the ring this summer at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

The three-time Olympian will co-headline a June 17 fight card, alongside fellow Belfast native Jamie Conlan, with Barnes competing for his first professional title — the WBO European flyweight belt — in just his third professional bout.

Romanian Silvio Olteanu (16-11-1) will be in the opposite corner and Barnes believes the former European champion and world-title challenger will bring out the best in him after two lacklustre performances in his first couple of paid bouts.

“It’s good for me to step up because I don’t like people talking shit, saying, ‘Barnes is fighting a nobody’,” said the Belfast native. “This time I’m not fighting a nobody — I’m fighting an ex-European champion and somebody who has fought for the world title so I’m not fooling anyone.

“I’m going into the deep end to fight for a title in my third fight,” added the the 30-year-old, who will earn a top-15 world ranking with the WBO if he sees off 39-year-old Olteanu.

Conlan, the elder brother of world amateur champion Michael, will have a keep-busy bout on the June card ahead of an anticipated super-flyweight world-title shot later this year.

While a September date has been mooted for that WBO title tilt, manager Matthew Macklin is believed to be looking into the possibility of staging a big winter show in Belfast that could feature both Conlan and the homecoming of his younger brother Michael, who has yet to fight as a pro in Ireland.

“We are pretty close with the WBO and it seems like it’s all basically done,” explained Jamie Conlan on hopes of a title shot.

An opponent is yet to be confirmed for his June warm-up, but the undefeated 30-year-old (19-0) insists he will not be looking past his next ring date.

“At the minute [that’s a danger], yes, but when I go into camp it’s all meticulous and everything is pretty straightforward,” said Conlan.

“I wanted this fight because I just wanted to stay active.

“I’ve got to get this out of the way or no world-title fight is in sight… every fight before the world-title fight is just as important.”


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