Paddy Barnes will give his all tonight to get his hands on the WBC Flyweight World title at Windsor Park.
The Belfast fighter wil face champion Cristofer Rosales in front of 24000 fans and Barnes knows that his opponent is big favourite with the bookmakers but that does not worry him.
“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?”
“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.”
And Barnes says he is the best shape of his life for the biggest fight of his professional career.
“Basically, I’ve been in camp since January because I was scheduled to have fights in March, then June.
“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 fan Barnes has no qualms about pursuing his world title dream at the home of Linfield.
“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.”