Barnes: I don't care about Euro belt, it's all about world title shot
Paddy Barnes is looking at the WBO European flyweight title as a stepping stone to a world title shot heading into tonight's clash with Silvio Olteanu at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.
The three-time Olympian wants to impress in his hometown but admits he thinks nothing of the European strap that's up for grabs over ten rounds this evening.
However, he does reckon that 39-year-old Olteanu is a battle-hardened campaigner. The Romanian has won 16 of his 28 contests so far, while Barnes has recorded two straight victories since turning pro after the Rio Olympics.
"I don't think people really realise how hard a fight it is. This fella has been European champion, he's fought for the world title and got beat on a split decision.
"You can take from that what you like, said Barnes.
"I don't care about the belt, all I care about is the top 15 ranking in the world and pushing on to world titles.
"For some, a WBO European title is their world title; for me, the belt means nothing whatsoever. For me, all it is is a step closer to challenging for a legitimate world title."
Barnes' fellow Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce makes his pro debut on tonight's ten-bout Frank Warren card against an opponent to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, Sean McComb is expecting a trickier fight than last time from Russia's No 1 seed Vitaly Dunaystev at the European Championships in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Monday.
McComb scored an impressive unanimous decision over Erik Agateljan in his opening bout yesterday, the Belfast southpaw wobbling the Czech Republic light-welter with a stunning uppercut in the second.
Dunaystev, the World Elite champion who McComb beat on a 3-2 split decision in a Round Robin in Dublin in April, awaits in the last 16.
The pair meet for a place at the World Championships in Hamburg in August/September, as the top eight in each weight in the Ukraine qualify for Hamburg.
McComb said: "I think it will be tougher this time now that he knows what I'm about. It will be a bit more of a trickier fight; I'm expecting the same again for myself."
Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly and Kurt Walker box today in Kharkiv.
Joe Ward, the European champions and No 1 seed in the light-heavyweight class in Kharkiv, got a bye into the last 16 and awaits the winner of the Matus Strnisko (Slovakia) versus Bou Diabra (France) fight.
Ward, who is part of a nine-strong Irish squad in the Ukraine, is aiming for his third European gold.