PADDY BARNES was planning a holiday in New York to watch his great pal Michael Conlan fight, but has ended up fighting alongside him.
The former WBC flyweight title challenger makes his American debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden when he faces Oscar Mojica in a six round bantamweight scrap, live on BoxNation.
Conlan heads the card in a featherweight ten rounder against Ruben Garcia.
Barnes, 31, said: “My training camp for this fight has been 10 weeks. I've been training because I thought I could possibly be fighting early March.
“I was happy about that because I was going to book a flight and hotel in New York to watch Michael anyway. Then I got a phone call saying I was on the bill, so – happy days.”
The weekend’s test will be Barnes comeback after being knocked out in four rounds by Cristofer Rosales in his world title challenge last August.
That’s his only defeat in six professional fights after a stunning amateur career that included two Olympic bronze medals, European gold and double gold at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
And the pint-sized Irishman is determined to impress when he fights in front of a US audience at boxing’s finest arena.
He told American fans: “I have an all-action style, but obviously, controlled action. You could describe me as a crazy fighting leprechaun!”
Mojica, 26, has won 11 of his 17 contests, had a 200 fight amateur career, but with just one win inside the distance he will relying on his boxing skills.
Mojica, who is trained by his dad Jose, is in form and got an upset draw against Ruben Vega in his last fight.
He groaned “I thought I did enough to win my last fight, but it's always hard against these undefeated guys.”
The Dallas man has studied Barnes and like the Vegas fight doesn’t expect the three judges’ to do him any favours in the Big Apple.
Mojica, who works as a teaching assistant, added: ”I know Paddy Barnes was in the amateurs for some time, and I think that reflects on his style a little more than anything.
“He is an Olympian, so obviously he has a lot of experience, but to me, he stayed a little bit stuck in that amateur style.
"I know he's going to be favoured, but I've been working really hard. It's St. Patrick's Day, so I know the crowd will be in his favour.
"Me and my dad both watch videos of him. My dad does it first, then we meet up during the week and we go over what we could do, what our strengths could be and his weaknesses.
"But I'm right there – I'm fighting the best guys in my division, and it's just a matter of me getting one of those big wins to move up.
"More than anything, I'm just training hard. A lot of guys overshadow me, they don't think I have a possibility of winning a world title.”