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Paddy Barnes believes he has too much strength for Cristofer Rosales

Paddy Barnes is determined to prove himself the world’s biggest force in the flyweight division tonight when he challenges WBC world champion Cristofer Rosales at Windsor Park.

Belfast’s ‘Leprechaun’ will enjoy fanatical home support in the stadium on a card that also includes Carl Frampton v Luke Jackson and Tyson Fury v Francesco Pianeta.

As well as an entire city roaring him on, Barnes expects to hold a significant weight advantage when the first bell rings.


Barnes said: “I’m definitely the strongest flyweight in the world. I know that because of the training I do – I lift heavier weights than other lads do.

“I know for a fact I’m stronger than Rosales. It was strange he’s so light. It wasn’t just at the weigh-in but he’s been on the weight all week. He won’t be able to put much weight on for fight night.

“I’ve come down a bit sharply so I can go back up again and feel good about it but he’s been on the weight all week. I just don’t really see the benefit of that.

“For my ring walk, I’m sure the hairs on the back of my neck will stand up because I’m sure the crowd will be really, really loud.”

Barnes’ trainer Danny Vaughan added: “Mood wise, Paddy’s always moody. You never know what mood he’s in. Fitness-wise, he’s in the shape of his life, though.

“It’s going to be unbelievable in there. It’ll be difficult for the kid – he could crumble under the crowd and the noise whereas Paddy will get some lift off it and so will everyone else.

“Like I said, it’s going to be unbelievable.”

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Already Ireland’s most decorated amateur boxer ever, on Saturday mighty atom Paddy Barnes begins his quest to become the finest prizefighter in the Emerald Isle’s rich pugilistic history.

At Windsor Park soccer stadium in his home city of Belfast, the former European and two-time Commonwealth Games champion, who also twice made the podium at the Olympic Games, rolls the dice against Nicaragua’s formidable WBC champion Cristofer Rosales….. with just 32 pro rounds showing on his slate!

Despite his unquestionable pedigree and home court, it is a task that odds setters believe is beyond ‘Paddy Power’ and they enlist the tricky and tenacious battler as a 17-10 outsider against a lethal Latino whose resume shows 25 more pro fights.

‘Rosales is a very good champion but I’m a 31 year old triple Olympian who’s been boxing for 20 years. If I’m not ready now, when will I be ready?’ asks the Danny Vaughan coached contender whose 21 month pro career includes just five gigs and no 12 round experience.

‘People have to remember that I also had eight ‘five-round’ fights with small gloves and no vest or headguard in the WSB where I’d be fighting the national champion every time.

‘Let’s be truthful, there’s no such thing as ‘amateur boxing’ at elite level, any more. The Olympics and WSB involve full-time paid professional athletes and the standard is extremely high. Some of the cream from the old communist countries will never go professional but they were fully matured men; among the very best fighters for their weight on the planet.’

The father of two daughters has had ample time to whip both body and mind into pristine fighting condition ahead of this unexpected voluntary challenge.

‘Basically, I’ve been in camp since January because I was scheduled to have fights in March, then June,’ states Barnes who persevered with the sport after losing his first 15 amateur contests!

‘I’ve been solid on this for 10 weeks, spending time at gyms in Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, Dubai as well as Belfast. And I have the luxury of training alongside some of my very best friends such as Tyrone McKenna and Sean McComb which makes prepping really enjoyable. Everything has good extremely well.’

And Cliftonville FC diehard Paddy has no qualms about pursuing his world title dream in the den of NIFL Premiership arch rivals Linfield!

‘This’ll not be the first time a Cliftonville boy has won a fight over at Windsor Park!’ quips the engaging Barnes who was awarded an MBE for services to boxing and the community in 2015.

‘Home advantage is a big bonus. A sell-out is expected and I’ve personally sold over 800 tickets. There’s no home crowd like a Belfast home crowd but I’ll keep a lid on it. Having boxed in huge, often hostile arenas around the world, I’m far too experienced and well-schooled to lose focus. Besides, I’m acutely aware what Rosales is capable of doing to me if my concentration wonders.

‘But I hold the advantage here. I’ve competed on much bigger platforms and, the bigger the stage, the better performance I produce. I’m very conscious of giving the paying fans their money’s worth and partaking in a great fight.’

The one they call ‘The Leprechaun’ is not only eight years senior but, having conducted his stellar amateur innings in the 49kg light-flyweight class, will concede almost three inches in height, seven inches in reach to stick of dynamite Rosales.

‘Flyweight is my optimal division now and I’m very, very strong at 8st,’ insists Barnes.

‘Taller opponents are generally better for me because there’s no one my size in Ireland or the UK suitable to spar with so it’s the norm to spar taller, heavier men. That said, Rosales doesn’t really capitalise on his height. He’s right in your face.’

The explosive 23 year old champion has left 18 of his 27 victims staring up at the lights and commandeered his crown by clattering feared 15-0 (15) Tokyo terror Daigo Higa in nine over in Yokohama. But two of his three losses were inflicted by Brits Kal Yafai (pts8) and Andrew Selby (pts 12) and the Ulsterman is intent on completing the hat-trick.

‘Rosales is very tough and relentless,’ acknowledges Barnes.

‘You can’t take too much from his loss to Selby because Andrew has his own unique style. I took far more from his upset victory over Higa because I’ve a very similar style to Higa but I’m a bit more active.

‘Higa, a huge, huge puncher, was unable to hurt Rosales so I’m expecting a hard 12 rounder. Everyone warns Cristofer’s got 18 knockouts but I could fight 18 bums and get 18 kayos. That won’t be an issue. I was never dropped or stopped in over 300 amateur fights.

‘I know I’m the underdog but what do the bookies know? They had me down to win the Olympic gold medal!

‘I win because my skills and knowledge are superior to Rosales. He may be more experienced but I’m the better fighter. I intend to steal the show. I’m Paddy Barnes and I always win!’

CRISTOFER “El Látigo” ROSALES (Nicaragua)
WBC Flyweight World Champion / 1st Title Defense
Age: 23 / Date of birth: October 6, 1994
Residence, birthplace: Managua, Nicaragua
Record: 27-3, 18 KOs / Total rounds: 173 / World championship fights: 1-0, 1 KO
Height: 5’6.5″ – 169cm / Reach: 71.5″ – 181cm / Stance: Right-handed

PADDY “The Leprechaun” BARNES (Northern Ireland)
Ranked WBC No. 14 at Flyweight
Age: 31 / Date of birth: April 9, 1987
Residence, birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Record: 5-0, 1 KO / Total rounds: 32
Height: 5’4″ – 162cm / Reach: 64.5″ – 164cm / Stance: Right-handed

WBC FLYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONS
1. Pone Kingpetch (Thai) 1963
2. Hiroyuki Ebihara (Jap) 1963 – 1964
3. Pone Kingpetch (Thai) * 1964 – 1965
4. Salvatore Burruni (Italy) 1965 – 1966
5. Walter McGowan (GB) 1966
6. Chartchai Chionoi (Thai) 1966 – 1969
7. Efren Torres (Mex) 1969 – 1970
8. Chartchai Chionoi (Thai) * 1970
9. Erbito Salavarria (Phil) 1970 – 1971
10. Betulio Gonzalez (Ven) 1972
11. Venice Borkorsor (Thai) 1972 – 1973
12. Betulio Gonzalez (Ven) * 1973 – 1974
13. Shoji Oguma (Jap) 1974 – 1975
14. Miguel Canto (Mex) 1975 – 1979
15. Chan-Hee Park (Kor) 1979 – 1980
16. Shoji Oguma (Japan) * 1980 – 1981
17. Antonio Avelar (Mex) 1981 – 1982
18. Prudencio Cardona (Col) 1982
19. Freddie Castillo (Mex) 1982
20. Eleoncio Mercedes (DR) 1982 – 1983
21. Charlie Magri (GB) 1983
22. Frank Cedeño (Phil) 1983 – 1984
23. Koji Kobayashi (Jap) 1984
24. Gabriel Bernal (Mex) 1984
25. Sot Chitalada (Thai) 1984 – 1988
26. Yong-Kang Kim (Kor) 1988 – 1989
27. Sot Chitalada (Thai) * 1989 – 1991
28. Muangchai Kittikasem (Thai) 1991 – 1992
29. Yuri Arbachakov (Russia) 1992 – 1996
30. Chatchai Sasakul (Thai) 1997 – 1998
31. Manny Pacquiao (Phil) 1998 – 1999
32. Medgoen Singsurat (Thai) 1999 – 2000
33. Malcolm Tunacao (Phil) 2000 – 2001
34. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thai) 2001 – 2007
35. Jorge Arce (Mexico) (Interim) 2005 – 2006
36. Daisuke Naito (Japan) 2007 – 2009
37. P. Wonjongkam (Thai) (Interim) * 2009
38. Koki Kameda (Japan) 2009 – 2010
39. Pong. Wonjongkam (Thai) * 2010 – 2012
40. Sonny Boy Jaro (Phil) 2012
41. Toshiyuki Igarashi (Japan) 2012 – 2013
42. Akira Yaegashi (Japan) 2013 –
43. Roman Gonzalez (Nic) 2014 – 2016
44. Juan Hernandez (Mexico) 2017
45. Daigo Higa (Japan) 2017 – 2018
46. Cristofer Rosales (Mexico) 2018 –
*Regained

WBC TOP 10 FLYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONS
1. Miguel Canto (Mexico)
2. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand)
3. Chartchai Chionoi (Thailand)
4. Efren Torres (Mexico)
5. Yuri Arbachakov (Russia)
6. Roman Gonzalez (Nicaragua)
7. Sot Chitalada (Thailand)
8. Akira Yaegashi (Japan)
9. Betulio Gonzalez (Venezuela)
10. Shoji Oguma (Japan)

GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE FLYWEIGHT DIVISION IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
40 world champions have been recognized by the WBC, of whom only six have regained the title: Pone Kingpetch (Thailand), Chartchai Chionoi (Thailand), Betulio Gonzalez (Venezuela), Shoji Oguma (Japan), Sot Chitalada (Thailand), Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand).

151 flyweight world title bouts have been held in the history of the WBC.

MEMORABLE WBC FLYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHTS:
Apr. 15, 2018 Cristofer Rosales TKO9 Daigo Higa – Kanagawa
May 20, 2017 Daigo Higa TKO6 Juan Hernandez – Tokyo
Apr. 23, 2016 Roman Gonzalez W12 McWilliams Arroyo – Inglewood
Sep. 5, 2014 Roman Gonzalez TKO9 Akira Yaegashi – Tokyo
Apr. 8, 2013 Akira Yaegashi W12 Toshiyuki Igarashi – Tokyo
Mar. 27, 2010 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam W12 Koki Kameda – Tokyo
Nov. 29, 2009 Koki Kameda W12 Daisuke Naito – Saitama
July 18, 2007 Daisuke Naito W12 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Tokyo
July 30, 2005 Jorge Arce TKO3 Angel Priolo – La Paz
Mar. 2, 2001 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam TKO1 Malcolm Tunacao – Phichit
Sep. 17, 1999 Boonsai Sansurat TKO3 Manny Pacquiao – Nakhon Si Thammarat
Dec. 4, 1998 Manny Pacquiao KO8 Chatchai Sasakul – Phuttamonthon
May 9, 1997 Chatchai Sasakul W12 Ysaias Zamudio – Bangkok
June 23, 1992 Yuri Arbachakov KO8 Muangchai Kittikasem – Tokyo
Feb. 15, 1991 Muangchai Kittikasem TKO6 Sot Chitalada – Ayutthaya
Oct. 8, 1984 Sot Chitalada W12 Gabriel Bernal – Bangkok
Mar. 15, 1983 Charlie Magri TKO7 Eleoncio Mercedes – London
May 18, 1980 Shoji Oguma KO9 Chan-Hee Park – Seoul
Jan. 8, 1975 Miguel Canto W15 Shoji Oguma – Sendai
Aug. 4, 1973 Betulio Gonzalez W15 Miguel Canto – Maracaibo
Feb. 23, 1969 Efren Torres TKO8 Chartchai Chionoi – Mexico City
Dec. 30, 1966 Chartchai Chionoi TKO9 Walter McGowan – Bangkok
Sep. 18, 1963 Pone Kingpetch KO1 Hiroyuki Ebihara – Tokyo

WBC Statistics by Luis Medina.