Paddy Barnes: I’ve made my call on going pro

Three-time Olympian Paddy Barnes is expected to reveal details of his move into the professional ranks within the next fortnight.

The former European amateur champion will speak to Sport Ireland (formerly the Irish Sports Council) about what grant options are available to him to stay in the high performance system.

But it is believed that the 29-year-old has already made his mind up on signing professional terms with a UK-based promoter, despite having a number of offers on the table.

“Yeah, there’s a few offers, but most of it is sorted already,” revealed Barnes.

“The decision’s made, but whether I’m going or not… I still have to talk to the Sports Council as well so I’ll wait and see what’s offered,” added the two-time Olympic medallist, who was unwilling to confirm which promotional stable he will sign with, although sources suggest it is a UK-based outfit.

“It [his decision] is made and all, but if anyone wants to find out, they’re going to need to watch and tune into Paddy Power,” laughed the Belfast native, referencing his bookmaker sponsor.

“I’m not sure when it will be announced, I’ll have to talk to a few people first and we’ll see what happens,” said Barnes.

It is understood that Sport Ireland remain keen on discussing Barnes’ future with him and the possibility of providing educational and holistic support in addition to his existing Government funding if he remains in the high performance system.

However, the fact Barnes did not medal at the Rio Olympic means that his basic funding is set to be cut from €40,000 per year to €20,000, which has encouraged his move to the pro ranks.

Barnes had been favourite to claim gold at his 49kg division in Rio, but suffered a shock defeat to Spaniard Samuel Carmona Heredia in his opening bout.

The Belfast light-flyweight struggled to perform at his best as he fought just three hours after weighing in.

“It was five long weeks away, and five long weeks I feel have been wasted,” said the two-time Olympic medallist. “The only positive I can think of from the Olympic Games is that I got to carry the flag and lead my country at the biggest sporting event in the world.

“I couldn’t perform anywhere near my best because of the weigh-in. Of all the years making weight, I’ve never in my career weighed in and fought three hours later.”

Prior to the Rio Games, Barnes’ quickest turnaround between weighing in and competing in a ‘major’ international competition is believed to be around seven hours. Some pundits suggested afterwards that the Belfast man should have moved up in weight to flyweight and attempted to qualify for Rio at the higher 52kg division.

But with Barnes having qualified at 49kg for the Olympics 16 months prior to the Games, a move up in weight was always highly unlikely.

“People say I should’ve moved up, but never in my whole career have I weighed in and fought three hours later. It just took its toll,” said Barnes. “It [49kg] is the weight I’m most competitive at. I’m still the best 49kg in the world, I just wasn’t able to perform at my best.”

Barnes is expected to compete at flyweight as a pro, which is capped at roughly one kilo or four pounds heavier than the amateur light-flyweight limit.


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