Three-time Irish Olympian Paddy Barnes has signed a management deal with Matthew Macklin's MGM stable as he gears up for life in the pro ranks. 

Barnes confirmed his intentions to turn professional on Friday, targeting a debut bout in Belfast before Christmas.

He will now link up with Birmingham-born Irish fighter Macklin in the Spain-based gym.

A statement released on MGM's Facebook page said: "MGM are delighted to announce the signing of Olympian Paddy Barnes on a management contract.

"The signing of Paddy Barnes has everyone at MGM very excited. An impressive amateur career has produced one of Ireland's most popular Olympians.

"Three appearances at the Olympic Games produced consecutive bronze medals in 2008 and 2012. This led to Paddy being given the honour of being Ireland's flag bearer at the most recent Olympics in Brazil.

"Paddy’s extensive list of accolades also includes Commonwealth gold on two occasions, Delhi 2010 and captain of [Northern] Ireland in Glasgow 2014, WSB appearances and a host of national titles.

Representing Ireland has always been my ambition and now I hope to emulate that success as a professional - Paddy Barnes

"However, now is the time to begin a new chapter in his boxing career and Paddy cannot wait to get started."

Barnes suffered a shock last-32 defeat at the Rio Games in August on a split-decision to Spaniard Samuel Carmona Heredia.

The 29-year-old said he has plenty of options when mulling his next step, but is confident he's made the right choice: "I've enjoyed every minute of my time as an amateur and my achievements are something I am very proud of.

"Representing Ireland has always been my ambition and now I hope to emulate that success as a professional.

“After the Olympics there was many offers on the table but being part of Team MGM was the natural choice and one I’m delighted with. I honestly believe I have the ideal team to guide me to world title opportunities."