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Dublin: 3°C Saturday 26 September 2020

Paddy Barnes set for WSB again in preparation for Rio and pro career

Two-time Olympic medallist has been drafted by Polish Hussars team for pro-style competition

Paddy Barnes (left) and Michael Conlan qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics via the WSB last season
Paddy Barnes (left) and Michael Conlan qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics via the WSB last season
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

PADDY BARNES has told The42 that he intends to fight again in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) in preparation for the Rio Olympics and a future pro career.

Both Barnes and world champion Michael Conlan booked their places at the Rio 2016 Games through last season’s WSB, with two-time Olympic medallist Barnes going an undefeated 7-0 after a torturous run of fights and flights saw him travel over 34,000 miles for his bouts.

The Belfast flyweight boxed for the Italia Thunder last time round and accepted such a gruelling schedule in order to increase his chances of reaching Rio.

For the upcoming season, which starts in January, Barnes wanted to make sure that his fights would mainly take place in Europe, and that now looks likely after the Hussars of Poland picked him in Wednesday’s draft of ‘foreign’ boxers.

WSB teams combine a choice of their own national selections with international picks, alternating team selections for home and away fights.

“I’m going to go ahead with it,” Barnes told The42. “I didn’t know if I would because the WSB weren’t sure that any team would take me  - a lot of the teams are trying to use the WSB for their own (national) boxers to qualify for the Olympic Games.

“The USA wanted to take me but they wanted me to fight (for their fixtures) in Mexico and Morocco, but I didn’t want to travel to any of those countries,” continued the Belfast native.

“Then, after training today, I heard Poland wanted to take me. I wanted to go to with Poland or the British Lionhearts team because they’re close (to Ireland), so I’m happy to go with Poland… I think they want me to fight in Russia so that’s not too bad.”

Paddy Barnes is welcomed back by Tommy Murphy Barnes is congratulated by former IABA president Tommy Murphy after his WSB success last April Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The former European champion will not compete at the ongoing National Elite Championships, but he is keen to stay active in the WSB before the Olympics and talked up the benefits of boxing in the pro-style competitions which sees fights take place over five rounds.

“I’m already qualfied for the Olympics so it’s good (to keep busy) before Rio. Plus I want to go pro after Rio,” said Barnes, referring to the WSB’s pro-friendly style, although he is yet to negotiate financial terms with the Polish team in order to formally confirm his participation.

Barnes and Conlan opted not to take WSB payments during last season’s competition as a trade-off for priority selection in the race to qualify for Rio. Many WSB boxers earn salaries in addition to fight bonuses of between $1,000 to $2,000 as international governing body AIBA have abandoned the old ‘amateur’ system.

“When they get back to me I’ll have a talk with them and let them know what I want,” said Barnes on his negotiations.

The two-time Olympic medallist was one of four Irish fighters picked in Tuesday’s draft for the WSB team-structured competition, alongside Steven Donnelly, Darren O’Neill and Dean Gardiner .

Donnelly has once again been drafted by the Polish Hussars team, having competed for them last season. The Ballymena welterweight is currently awaiting word on his own Olympic fate as the convoluted qualifying system for Rio could yet see him qualify for the Games based on last season’s WSB results. AIBA are not expected to formally confirm his status until later this week.

Meanwhile. Kilkenny heavyweight O’Neill has been drafted by Venezuela Caciques and Clonmel’s Gardiner was picked by Puerto Rico Hurricanes.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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