'We used to kill each other' - Paddy Barnes believes Katie Taylor can become the next Laila Ali
Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes believes Katie Taylor can bring women's professional boxing to the next level and emulate Laila Ali.
Taylor has been in negotiations with Eddie Hearns Matchroom team and is expected to announce her move to the pro ranks in the coming weeks.
She would join Barnes and Michael Conlan who have also waved goodbye to the amateur game since the disappointment of Rio.
Barnes announced a move to Matthew Macklin's MGM stable in September.
Barnes was often involved in furious sparring sessions with the Bray fighter and believes she has the necessary attributes to take the pro game by storm.
He told RTE Sport: “Every spar we had was a war. We used to kill each other. Her speed is phenomenal. She is a very, very fast boxer. Her speed and timing are out of this world.
"She can take a punch. I know myself. I know myself I can punch hard. I’ve hit her clean a lot of times and she’s taken it well."
Barnes believes that Taylor could become as big a name as Laila Ali, the daughter of the legend Muhammad Ali, who retired undefeated in 2007 and her exploits could also have knock-on benefits for other Irish fighters.
“For Katie to turn professional, it will lift women’s professional boxing all over the world," he added.
"It will give it a better profile. If she was to fight in Ireland it will give other professionals the chance to get on her card because there aren’t too many shows in Ireland.
"It could give every other Irish pro a good chance to get recognised. It could open the floodgates for everyone else to make a living from the sport.
“People all over the world know who Katie Taylor is. With her being professional and fighting on TV it could be something like Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter.
"I think Katie Taylor is going to do the same on this side of the world.