Olympic hero Paddy Barnes is optimistic over his chances of achieving his goals at light-flyweight as he prepares for Saturday’s huge stage of Féile an Phobail.
‘The Leprachaun’, who won two Olympic medals during a famous amateur career, was denied a flyweight world title in just his sixth professional and is now looking to kickstart another charge to the top at 108lbs.
As he prepares to face Joel Sanchez in front of an adoring home crowd on the #MTKFightNight in Belfast’s Falls Park, Barnes said: “The plan is to get to light-flyweight. I’ll be flyweight for this one and then I’ll fight again later this year.
“When a title shot arises at light-flyweight, I’ll make the weight. Until then, I’ll get as close as possible in the interim fights.
“I’ve been working hard training-wise and I’ve made some changes with my nutrition. I have a nutritionist I work with every day. I should have had one since the start of my career – it’s making a big difference.
“I can’t wait to just get another win on Saturday. I’m going to clear my head, have my hand raised and be back to winning ways. Then it’s on towards titles at light-flyweight.
“It’s great to be able to fight in front of the Belfast crowd. This event is absolutely massive and it’s going to be a truly great night for Irish sport.
“Someone asked me what time I’m on and what time they should arrive and I just told them to go as early as possible because the whole bill is superb. You’ve got prospects emerging and then some true 50-50s.”
Barnes’ former amateur team-mate Michael Conlan tops the bill against Diego Alberto Ruiz, Paddy Gallagher and Chris Jenkins meet with the British & Commonwealth welterweight titles on the line, Padraig McCrory and Steve Collins Jr clash for the Celtic super-middleweight titles and there are two high-level middleweight collisions in Luke Keeler vs. Luis Arias and Alfredo Meli vs. Araik Marutjan.
BT Sport in association with Frank Warren will be broadcasting the main card, with ESPN+ in association with Top Rank providing the footage for a US audience.
On a busy undercard, a full house of more than 10,000 will be able to witness local talent such as the hotly-tipped Sean McComb and many more.