Austin Trout Debuts in BKFC

By Alex Fesl - 02/20/2023 - Comments

This past Friday, former super welterweight champion and three-time super welterweight title challenger, Austin Trout, made his bare-knuckle boxing debut in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC): KnuckleMania 3 from the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Trout went up against former UFC fighter, Diego Sanchez, and ended up stopping Sanchez via TKO in the 4th round.

This bout came as a bit of a surprise for most boxing fans as Trout at 36-5-1 (18 KOs), is still viewed as a solid super welterweight contender. Since losing to Jermell Charlo in a 2018 by majority decision, Trout has won five matches in a row, albeit against limited opposition, as well as a split draw against Terrell Gausha. While this fight may be viewed as a one-off fight for Trout and Sanchez to entertain fight fans in a rare big event in their home state of New Mexico, should boxing fans take notice of these types of events in the future? Or, should these events be viewed as dangerous circus-like events geared more towards MMA fans than boxing fans?

What is bare-knuckle boxing?

Bare-knuckle boxing, in particular the BKFC, represents a throwback to the early days of boxing in the late 1800s. Fighters in the BKFC wear lightly taped, and gauze hand wraps, only strike with closed fists, permit limited clinching, among other rules more in line with modern boxing. The most notable feature, other than the limited hand wraps, is the circular four-roped ring.

While BKFC mostly draws MMA fighters to the squared circle, we have seen some boxers take their chances as well, including the previously mentioned Trout and former junior welterweight and welterweight champion, Paulie Malignaggi. Likewise, we have also seen several notable boxers compete in another boxing alternative promotion called Big Knockout Boxing (BKB). BKB is much closer to modern boxing in that fighters wear padded gloves, but like BKFC, the ring is the most unique feature as it is a circular-shaped non-lifted solid-base ring, which does not use ropes, or corners. The ring more resembles a pit than an actual ring. Notable boxers that competed in the BKB are Gabriel Rosado, Curtis Stevens, Adrian Granados, and Jesus Soto Karass.

Future of BKFC and boxing

After this past Friday’s Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship: KnuckleMania 3, BKFC has had over 30 total events. Most of the events have taken place in the US, but several events have taken place outside the US including in countries Mexico, England, and Thailand. With that said, the BKFC represents the largest bare knuckle boxing promotion company globally and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

With the state of boxing with big fights seemingly pending forever, like Uysk vs. Fury, Spence vs. Crawford, Bivol vs. Beterbiev, Canelo vs. Benevidez, and Wilder vs. Joshua, etc., do boxing fans have any interest in these other combat sports? Does the fact that boxers are competing in the BKFC and BKB influence more boxing fans to have any interest? If so, who would boxing fans want to see in the squared circle of BKFC?

Let me know in the comments what you think of Trout fighting in BKFC and your opinion of bare-knuckle boxing.