Good enough... so you're old enough!

The Star Bob Westerdale2nd June, 2009

HE is tipped by many boxing insiders to be Sheffield's next new world champion.

Super-featherweight Steve Barnes, an 18-year-old from Pitsmoor, is being groomed for stardom by top promoter Mick Hennessy, who had to fend off competition from others to land his signature.

Barnes was tipped as a future world champion by website BritishBoxing.Net last year.

Last month, in his second pro fight, he knocked out opponent Nick Seagar in the first round.

He will next perform on the on the undercard of the John Murray v Scott Lawton British lightweight title scrap in Manchester on June 13.

Hennessy, who also promotes Carl Froch, Junior Witter and Tyson Fury, plans to push Barnes hard and include him on all his live ITV shows.

The Sheffielder's first paid fight was staged in Ireland because Barnes, only 17 at the time, was too young to be licensed by the British Boxing Board of Control.

But his trainer, Dominic Ingle, felt that his prodigy was ready to turn professional and would stagnate if he stayed amateur - so the big puncher turned pro on an Irish licence.

'Steve was wasting his time in the amateurs because he was being avoided - and, anyway, his style is better suited to the pro game," said Ingle.

"We decided he was ready after watching him sparring with the likes of Junior Witter and seeing him do really well.

"All the promoters are looking for talented prospects because, with the likes of Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton coming to the end of the road, there is a need for new blood.

"Steve has been identified as someone who can fill that vacuum in years to come.

"Since he's been full-time, he's made fantastic progress and he really looks the part.

"Steve doesn't seem to have any fear, he will fight anyone - some of the punch-ups he has with (British welterweight champion) Kell Brook have to be seen to be believed!

'His style is bit of a mixture of an elusive Ingle-style fighter with a bit of Ricky Hatton thrown in for good measure.

"He's a very big puncher and he certainly likes a scrap.

"The fans are going to love him and if he keeps working hard he could be one of the best fighters to ever come out of our gym - not bad considering that we've had three world champions."