Bare-Knuckle Boxing show to be held at London’s O2 this weekend; promoter says “It will be as big as MMA in 18 months”

By James Slater - 06/29/2017 - Comments

Back in the summer of 1988, “Bible of Boxing” Ring Magazine ran a feature entitled, “Back to bare-knuckles – Maybe it’s worth a try?” The article put forward the notion of bare-knuckle boxing, outlawed since the sport’s change to gloved boxing in 1892, being brought back.

The interesting piece surmised which of the current big names would do well in bare-knuckle bouts; Mike Tyson, then the unbeaten heavyweight champ, being given a decent chance to be efficient in the art. Of course, bare-knuckle boxing didn’t come back, not on anything other than white collar-type shows (in the US, Bobby Gunn is unbeaten as a bare-knuckle fighter) – but this will change this weekend in London.

For the first time in years, a bare-knuckle boxing promotion will be sanctioned and will take place at The O2 this weekend. According to a piece on BBC Sport, 14 bare-knuckle bouts will take place, in front of around 2,000 paying fans. BKB, the outfit promoting the card, are called “the only legal bare-knuckle boxing company in the world,” and promoter Jim Freeman told BBC how he believes the upcoming show will be the first of many.

“There’s a lot of professional boxing promoters that can’t get the O2,” Freeman said. “Within 18 months or two years, it will be as big as MMA.”

Sure to be controversial, the show at the weekend will doubtless attract critics. However, Freeman insists, along with other people, how bare-knuckle boxing is safer than 12 round fights with gloves:

“Having lads beaten for 12 rounds and having their brains drained of water creates the injury,” Freeman stated. “We don’t have that repetition because lads fight for ten minutes.”

This weekend’s show will be headlined by Stanlee “Big Country” Wilson. So, will we see bare-knuckle boxing become as popular as MMA and even gloved boxing in the coming years? The fact that a big show is taking place at as prestigious a venue as The O2 certainly gives hope to those people involved in the hand-to-hand combat that was all the rage 125 years ago.

Will any TV channel look to pick up bare-knuckle boxing cards?