TWO-TIME Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes kicks off a crucial weekend for Irish boxing at the AIBA World Elite Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan today.
The Belfast dynamo, who has moved up from light-flyweight to flyweight, opens his campaign against Serbia's Milos Baltic at 9.0 (Irish time) this morning. Baltic (20) claimed Golden Gloves silver in Belgrade in 2012.
Mayo light-welterweight Ray Moylette is in against Kyrgyzstan's Ermek Sakenov, a silver medallist at the 2010 World Combat Games.
Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy and Canada's Samir El-Mais go head-to-head this afternoon.
Michael Conlan, Jason Quigley, Con Sheehan, Joe Ward and Sean McComb are out tomorrow and Sunday and head coach Billy Walsh wants to hit the ground running.
"It's a massive weekend for the squad and Paddy, Ray and Tommy will be looking to get us off to a winning start," he said.
Meanwhile, 17 National U-22 semi-finals will be decided at the National Stadium in Dublin tonight. Boxing begins at 6.30.
The male and female finals will be decided tomorrow, beginning at 7.0 at the home of Irish boxing.