By Thomas Lyons (WrapsOnTV)
FIVE fights as a professional, Paddy Barnes has the chance to cement his name in Irish folklore when he challenges the dangerous, hard-hitting Nicaraguan, Cristofer Rosales (27 wins with 18 KOs to his name) at Windsor Park tonight.
The WBC World Flyweight champion Rosales defeated Japan’s Daigo Higa in impressive style, recording a ninth-round stoppage at the Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa. Its a testament to Rosales resilience to come to Belfast, entering another fighter’s backyard to showcase why he’s the #1 112lb fighter on the planet.
Barnes who has boxed all over the globe as an amateur hasn’t yet made a case for himself in the pro ranks with no real standout performance to date but doesn’t mean the Irishman is short of toughness, boxing IQ and heart to have his dreams of becoming a world champion come true.
Particularly with the lighter weights especially at flyweight, the opportunities of fighting for a world title come thick and fast as Charlie Edwards found out when he stepped up to the plate to fight John Riel Casimero in just his ninth fight.
For Barnes, the opportunity has come much sooner and not a lot of pressure is on the challenger knowing the level and calibre of Rosales in comparison to his previous opponents.
Making a prediction for this fight would be a pretty bold move because to say whether we’ve seen enough of Rosales to really make a claim that this fight will end in a stoppage of go the full 12-round distance remains to be seen but one thing that is for certain when it comes to Paddy Barnes is that you’ll get no bull**** talk and when it gets down and dirty in the trenches, ‘The Leprechaun’ will always leave it in the ring regardless of the result.
With 25,000 spectators packed into the National Football Stadium on Saturday night, roaring their hometown boy on to get the business done against Rosales, the champion should feel the heat and hostility immediately knowing what he’s got himself in for.
To be fair to Rosales, he looked very relaxed at Thursday’s final press conference and this energy has continued throughout the build-up because of what’s at stake and the job he’s flown over to do.
Making the weight like a consummate professional and putting it all up for grabs means Rosales is game for the challenge, fighting away from home and successfully defend his belt.
Neither men have bitten to the banterous, choice words for each other but one line that did strike me surprisingly was Rosales’s nonsense command to Barnes, ‘don’t run like a chicken’ implying he’s looking to stand and trade, box up close and beat Barnes around by standing in the pocket.
However, Barnes is a very clever and knowledgeable boxer and will not necessarily need to stand toe to toe with Rosales but use the ring to his advantage and mix it up, gain momentum from the crowd and carry himself over the line to victory.