Paddy Barnes: Double Olympic medallist makes switch to professional boxing

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Paddy Barnes: Twice Olympic bronze medallist opts to turn professional

Two-time Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes has announced his move from amateur to professional boxing.

The Belfast man will fight at flyweight after struggling at light-flyweight in the Rio Olympics, where he lost to Samuel Carmona in his opening bout.

"It's time to go pro, I've been in the amateurs too long and I want a new challenge," said the 29-year-old.

"My debut will possibly be before Christmas in Belfast. It's my home city so it would be great to begin there."

He is set to sign a professional contract with a well-known stable in England next week.

Barnes enjoyed a stellar amateur career, with the former European amateur champion winning Olympic bronze in 2008 and 2012 to go along with two Commonwealth Games titles.

Rio disappointment

He was Ireland's flag bearer in Rio but Barnes found making the weight difficult in the light-flyweight division as he lost on points to Spain's Carmona.

"The experience was brilliant, but after a few Olympics I know what it's like," Barnes told Paddy Power.

"I'm going to start off at flyweight, hopefully move through the weights and probably end up bantamweight at the end of my career.

"I'll still be disappointed with my (amateur) career, not winning a gold medal. That will never leave me, but bringing back the world title is something that's just as recognisable. That will in some ways make up for it."

Barnes saw his Olympic gold medal hopes ended by China's Zou Shiming in 2008 and 2012 - he now wants revenge in the pro ring.

"I obviously want to win a world title, but the fight that I really want is the guy from China - Zou Shiming," he said.

"He's the big money fight and he's the one who I'll be targeting. I want to win the world title, go to China and defend it against him."

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