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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Paddy Barnes feeling laid back about his first professional fight tonight

Barnes recently welcomed his daughter into the world.

Image: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton/INPHO

PADDY BARNES IS a fighter that normally exhibits the livewire characteristics of an energizer bunny in the ring so it seems fitting that the three-time Olympian will cap a madcap couple of weeks by making his professional debut tonight .

The 29-year-old recently welcomed a new daughter into the world following a high-speed dash across Belfast so having come through that excitement, Barnes is feeling fairly laid back about his first paid fight.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in. I wasn’t really expecting her so soon, especially on fight week,” explained Barnes on the birth of his daughter Fianna with his partner Mari.

“Mari was due on November 28, but with complications she’s been in hospital for eight weeks already… It was an emergency delivery,” continued the flyweight, who was forced to rely on the driving skills of former amateur team-mate Seán McComb to transport him from a press conference to launch Michael Conlan’s new pro deal with Top Rank to the hospital for the birth.

“He broke every red light in Belfast! I didn’t care if we had someone pulling us over, especially with the week it is,” laughed the former European amateur champion, who also had the additional stress of Mari having to remain in hospital for treatment due to an illness following the birth.

“I’ve been training away so I’m in decent enough shape even though things haven’t been ideal,” said the 29-year-old. “At the end of the day, that’s life and shit happens. I’m sure everything will be okay.”

The two-time Olympic medallist co-headlines a bill with Jamie Conlan at Belfast’s Titanic Centre, live on BoxNation (7pm - Barnes is expected in the ring at around 9.30pm).

Bulgarian journeyman Stefan Slavchev (8-24-1) is set to be in the opposite corner, so Barnes is not losing any sleep ahead of his pro bow.

“I couldn’t care who I’m fighting. Zou Shiming is fighting on the same night, so they couldn’t get me him,” joked Barnes, referring to his former Olympic nemesis, who competes for the vacant WBO World flyweight title in Las Vegas tonight.

“Ultimately when I get everything sorted out [with family] at home then I’ll be able to go away and train properly in England or Scotland,” said Barnes. “When that happens in the new year that’s when I can focus on winning titles and big fights and big names… The fight that I most want is Zou Shiming.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Conlan, brother of amateur world champ Michael, will take on Hungarian novice David Koos in the co-headliner as the undefeated 30-year-old super-flyweight builds towards a world-title eliminator in the new year.

Dubliner Phil Sutcliffe Jr takes on Chris Jenkis of Wales in a tasty support scrap, while a decent undercard contains a host of former amateur talent including ex-Irish super-heavyweight champion Con Sheehan.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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