Paddy Barnes out to shock WBC champ Cristofer Rosales in only his sixth pro fight
Former amateur standout Paddy Barnes will get the opportunity to achieve his lifelong dream when he faces WBC flyweight titleholder Cristofer Rosales at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, before approximately 25,000 loyal fans on Saturday.
The former three-time Olympian believes his deep amateur resume will stand him in good stead and help him serve up the perfect aperitif for the main event which features former two-weight world titleholder Carl Frampton in a 12-round featherweight bout against Luke Jackson.
“It’s probably one of the best cards Ireland’s ever witnessed,” Barnes told The Ring on Tuesday. “Me and Carl are very, very good friends, since we were kids, and to fight for a world title is a dream come true.
“Fighting for the WBC belt at home; Ireland’s green, the belt’s green, my outfit’s green, everything is green. It’s all coming together. For me, it’s like a sign. I know I’m going to win, it’s set in stone, it’s gonna happen.
“It’s going to be amazing, and to have Tyson Fury there (who faces former world title challenger Francesco Pianeta over 10 rounds); he’s one of the best heavyweights in the world, he’s lineal champion.”
Barnes (5-0, 1 knockout) is clearly confident he can upset the heavy-handed Nicaraguan, who is a 4/11 (-275) pre-fight favorite, by using his boxing skills.
“I’m expecting it to be a tough fight at times, but I think my tactical ability will get me through,” said the 31-year-old stylist. “He’s nothing special, but he does the fundamentals very, very well.
“He’s a very determined fighter; he’s comes forward, he’s relentless, he’s always going to be in my face. That’s where my boxing skills come into play, but my fighting style is also front-footed so it has the makings of a classic fight.”
According to Barnes’ trainer, Danny Vaughan, training camp, which has been based predominantly in Glasgow, Scotland, with a short stint in Dubai, has gone extremely well.
“Paddy has given his heart and soul,” said Vaughan. “He’s ready mentally and physically. We’ve been sparring with (WBA junior bantamweight titleholder) Kal Yafai who has beaten Rosales.
“This is a really tough fight. Cristofer is a great champion. He has a fantastic engine and he doesn’t take a backward step, but we’re ready and we’ll have all the answers to what Cristofer brings.”
The 23-year-old Rosales won the title in April when he shocked the highly-touted Daigo Higa, stopping the weight-drained champion in nine rounds in Japan. And that was a big turnaround for the fighter who is now rated No. 5 by The Ring at 112 pounds.
Rosales (27-3, 18 KOs) turned professional at 18 and lost in his third fight to future world title challenger Keyvin Lara in September 2013 and Yafai in March 2015. From there, he won 13 consecutive fights before travelling to Cardiff, Wales, to face Andrew Selby in a world title eliminator. Despite dropping the Welshman in the opening round, he was out boxed and lost the decision.
While Barnes doesn’t have the same professional grounding as his opponent, he’s well-schooled with over 300 amateur contests which took place all over the world. The Belfast man is a double-Olympic bronze medalist, a two-time Commonwealth games gold medalist and a former European champion.
The challenger possesses a deep reservoir of knowledge which he will pit against the raw power of the visiting champion.
“I think it’s an interesting one,” Barnes said. “In my head, I think he could come in and try to blast me away.
“It’s hard to take anything away from the Selby fight because his style’s unique. The Higa fight gave me a lot of confidence. Higa had a similar style, but Higa was struggling with weight. I throw a lot more punches than Higa, and I have a better shot selection. I think it’s gonna be favorable for me.”
Barnes appreciates Rosales’ willingness to travel, but he’s been there and done it.
“I’ve travelled my whole life, fighting the best in their backyard [in my amateur career], so that’s nothing to me,” he explained. “He may have the professional experience, but I have more life experience.
“He’s a world champion who fought in Japan in a small arena. He’s never fought in arenas like this. I have many times: Olympic games, Commonwealth games, World Championships. I’m used to big arenas, big occasions like this, so I think I have the advantage that way.”
This fight looks like the proving ground for both men.
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