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Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes has confirmed he is to turn professional.
After winning bronze at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, Barnes' quest to become the first Irish athlete to win a medal at three successive Olympics Games ended in disappointment when he was beaten in his opening bout in Rio.
The 29-year-old believes the time has come for a new challenge and will step up to flyweight for his professional debut.
“Now it’s time to go pro, I’ve been in the amateurs too long and I want a new challenge,” Barnes told his column for sponsors Paddy Power. "The experience was brilliant, but after a few Olympics I know what it’s like."
He added: "My debut will possibly be before Christmas in Belfast. It’s my home city so it would be great to begin my career there.
"I’m going to start off at a 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."
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