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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