Paddy Barnes is under no illusion as to the size of the task facing him but remains bullish.
Belfast’s Olympic medal hero takes on undefeated Welshman Jay Harris for the IBF Inter-Continental flyweight title on the #MTKFightNight at Ulster Hall on Friday – live on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank and on iFL TV worldwide.
With Harris having already claimed Commonwealth and EBU crowns, Barnes knows he’ll have to draw on all his technical gifts to overcome his former sparring partner.
Barnes said: “I have big plans for next year now and I don’t imagine Jay Harris is going to stop me from turning those dreams into reality. I know it’ll be tough but I also know I need this win to fulfil my aspirations.
“Jay’s an out and out fighter. That’s my game as well but what I can do as well is box. I’m a boxer-fighter where as he’s more a straightforward fighter. It’s going to be great to watch because we’re going to clash head on. Fans will love it.
“I’m still open to getting to light-flyweight by March. Getting to flyweight was my next target and I’ve a big fight at this weight so it’s even better.
“It’s great to be fighting in Belfast. The fans are unbelievable with their noise and I guess it could have an effect. I don’t think he’s fought in a cauldron like a packed Ulster Hall. I’ve fought in massive arenas as both an amateur and a professional.
“I got the win at Feile an Phobail and that was great. I’m back to winning ways and that’s what was important after back-to-back defeats. I’m 10 times better than that so I’ll push on from there.”
Joining Barnes vs. Harris on a stacked bill is Sean McComb vs. Emiliano Dominguez, Marco McCullough vs. Viorel Simion, Terry Flanagan vs. Michael Ansah, Lewis Crocker, Gary Cully, Pierce O’Leary, Paddy Donovan, Sean Duffy and Ruari Dalton.