• Home
  • /
  • Boxing
  • /
  • Paddy Barnes Tears AIBA And Pat Hickey Asunder As He Confirms Move To Pro Boxing

Paddy Barnes Tears AIBA And Pat Hickey Asunder As He Confirms Move To Pro Boxing

Paddy Barnes Tears AIBA And Pat Hickey Asunder As He Confirms Move To Pro Boxing
By Gavan Casey
Share this article

Long before the Rio Olympics, Paddy Barnes was eyeing a move to the professional boxing ranks.

The 29-year-old Belfast man exited at the first hurdle earlier this summer, citing weight issues as the chief cause for his relatively sluggish if thoroughly courageous performance versus Spain's Samuel Carmona Heredia.

After an utterly disastrous and controversial Games for Ireland's eight-person boxing team, Barnes has confirmed to the Paddy Power Blog that the time has come to leave amateur boxing in his rear-view.

Now it’s time to go pro, I’ve been in the amateurs too long and I want a new challenge. The experience was brilliant, but after a few Olympics I know what it’s like.

Barnes also revealed that, as expected, he'll begin his pro campaign up at flyweight (112lbs), moving on from the strain to make 101-108lbs at amateur level.

And naturally, he's eyeing up his hometown for his debut in the paid ranks:

My debut will possibly be before Christmas in Belfast. It’s my home city so it would be great to begin my career there.

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.

I’ll still be disappointed with my (amateur) career, not winning a gold medal. That will never leave me, but bringing back the world title is something that’s just as recognisable. That will in some ways make up for it.

While not winning Olympic gold might sting, one way to banish such demons is to seek out a fight with an old rival from both the Beijing and London Olympics. Indeed, starting out as a pro, Barnes prioritises it even over winning world honours:


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.


Double Olympic gold medallist Shiming, six years Barnes' senior, is 8-1 as a professional since turning over in 2013, losing his sole world title shot to Amnat Ruenroeng in March of last year.

Barnes also told Paddy Power Blog how he 'hated' Rio, which he deemed to pale in comparison with the other two Olympics he boxed in, and admonished the AIBA for their organisation of the boxing tournament and subsequent lack of recovery times for certain fighters:


I hated Rio, the village was terrible. Beijing was amazing, London was amazing – but the Olympic village wasn’t even finished.

It was flooded half the time, it just wasn’t nice. In Rio, 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.

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.

And despite the Belfast man's eligibility to re-enter the Olympics as a professional in 2020 (how we'd love to see Barnes and Mick Conlan qualify just to tear shit up), Barnes, like his old friend, says he's entirely finished.

He also echoed the post-fight sentiments of Conlan that something is rotten in the AIBA, who have since attempted to address intrinsic problems within their structure:

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.

There was, however, one positive to come from Barnes' Rio experience:

The only positives I can take was meeting new people like the O’Donovan brothers and different athletes from different sports in Ireland, becoming friends with them and watching what they do.

But it wasn't just the lads from Lisheen who lit up the otherwise boring and soggy Olympic village. Barnes has been typically vociferous in his piss-taking of another Irish Olympic figure. The arrest of the former OCI president Pat Hickey on August 17th would transpire to be one of the biggest stories in the history of Irish sport, but according to Barnes it didn't adversely affect the Irish athletes in Rio. On the contrary, in fact:


It didn’t affect the 80 or so athletes because, bar a few of them, we didn’t even know who Pat Hickey was. The village was that boring, we were actually glad to see something like this because it give us a bit of entertainment.

There's certainly a couple of stones hidden in that snowball from Barnes ("we didn't even know who Pat Hickey was" is, quite clearly, a layered statement). Now we wait for an announcement as to which of boxing's promotional company he inks with in order to nail down that Belfast debut before Christmas.

It promises to be a compelling journey.

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com