By Elliot Foster
Paddy Barnes had a real fight on his hands as he picked up his first title in the paid code.
The Belfast flyweight was rocked early on against Silvio Olteanu at the Waterfront Hall in his home city, exclusively live on BoxNation.
But the three-time Olympian did just about enough against 39-year-old Spanish-based Romanian Olteanu to win the vacant WBO European title and begin his assault towards a world title, having had such a glittering amateur career.
Olteanu gave his all but it ultimately wasn’t enough as the three scoring judges at ringside handed Barnes the victory, much to the delight of him and his training team, by margins of 95-95, 97-94 and 97-93.
For Barnes, the hard work starts now as he moves up in level towards a potential shot at global glory.
He has long said that a fight with former unpaid for Zou Shiming, who holds the WBO belt at the weight, in the paid code would be something he would like and it remains to be seen whether that can be made.
One thing is for sure, however, and that is that after being in with Olteanu on Saturday night, Barnes has been well and truly welcomed to the professional ranks with a bang after two relatively easy openers.