Bare Knuckle Boxing has been in the news recently due in no small part to the photos of Artem Lobov and Jason Knight’s faces. The former UFC fighters met each other in the main event of Bare Knuckle Fighting Champonship 5 and produced a bloody war. Granted there was not much boxing skill involved as both guys were swinging wildly at each other. In the end, Lobov got the points decision and is now due to face former world champion boxer, Paulie Malignaggi in June.
Was it entertaining? In a way, yes, if you like seeing people bloodied and cut. But if this was what Bare Knuckle Boxing was all about, then I thought it wasn’t for me.
In the interests of fair reporting I searched YouTube for other fights. I watched another former UFC star Bec Rawlings, who impressed with her boxing skills, and then came across an English fighter Tyler Goodjohn.
Goodjohn had popped up on my social media feeds a few times by calling out Lobov, Conor McGregor and Malignaggi. So I watched a few of his fights from the past year.
Goodjohn fights on the UK promotion Bare Knuckle Boxing (BKB), and immediately I could see there was a difference in the skill level of Goodjohn and his opponents to either Lobov or Knight. Not every fight ended with blood everywhere. There were some good knockdowns, and on the whole the fights were good.
Tyler Goodjohn won an English title in boxing before moving to the world of BKB. He has the skill and the charisma to become a face for the fledgling sport.
A host of MMA stars have made the move recently to Bare Knuckle. I’ve already mentioned three former UFC fighters in Rawlings, Lobov and Knight. However in the UK we have seen former UFC heavyweight Mark Godbeer make the move and become British champion, Brad Pickett landed a great shot in his debut a few weeks ago to win by KO, and just last week Marcus Brimage signed up.
For so many to be making the move, I imagine the money on offer is decent. But do fighters need to be taking the damage we saw Lobov and Knight take?
The other side of the argument is that the damage is superficial in that it’s mostly cuts and bruising to the face. There is no long term head trauma that you may face from repeated head strikes with gloves, possibly due to fighters trying to be more accurate with their shots due to the hand bones being more likely to break.
I recently spoke with Tyler Goodjohn and asked his thoughts on the Lobov-Knight fight
“It was a very entertaining fight, you’d have to be blind not to see that. But from a fighter’s point of view it lacked a lot of skill and finesse. I could see me taking them apart no troubles at all,” Goodjohn said.
I asked Goodjohn if he felt the photos of Lobov and Knight were good or bad for the sport?
“Yes and No,” he explained. “Really you are always going to get your naysayers about the sport, but ultimately everyone was talking about it and watching it back. So it got a lot of exposure. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but like the UFC it’s going to bring a lot of fans in because of its brutal nature, whether people like it or not.”
Does he feel he has a chance to face either Lobov, McGregor or Malignaggi?
“I could definitely see a fight happening with Lobov,” Goodjohn replied. “I think it needs to happen. I’m hot property right now in the UK, my videos are going viral online, and obviously off the back of his fight he’s also bringing lots of heat. I think it would be a very entertaining fight and give Bare Knuckle boxing the huge exposure it deserves.”
How likely would a match up be considering the fighters are connected with different promotions?
“I hope so. I know through gloved boxing it’s not as easy as rival promotions working together. In fact it’s very hard because they are both battling for top spot. But I do think a cross promotion could work well if they obviously come to a fair agreement, which again is not straight forward,” Goodjohn explained.
Goodjohn feels the UK bare knuckle scene is more advanced than in the US
“I would definitely say the UK scene is more advanced,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of guys really proving their skills in BKB, everyone wants to see a great fight blood and knockdowns. But if it’s going to attract boxing hardcores to the sport, it’s got to show the technical art of boxing as well as the brutal art.”
How does he feel about the influx of MMA fighters to the sport?
It’s great for the sport. MMA guys are super tough and super game! But their stand up is obviously behind that of the boxers, but I respect anyone who is in the sport because it takes a Gladiator to do it.”
Having won an English title in boxing why the move to BKB?
“I had lost all love for boxing. It was all a business and so I eventually lost all respect for the game,” Goodjohn explained. “I didn’t really see the point in carrying on if the love wasn’t there to train anymore. It was too much of a circus for me. I have then seen a short BKB video on the news and thought it was right up my street! I loved the rawness and boldness of it so I contacted Jim Freeman Dove and the rest was history.”
Tyler Goodjohn is clear he is finished with traditional boxing.
“Yeah, 100% finished,” he said. “There’s no incentive to box again. The British Boxing Board of Control treat you with no respect what’s so ever, and neither do the promoters – you’re a walking pound sign to them. The money I was making as a fighter is impossible to live on and pretty embarrassing really, especially with the fight of the night performances I was putting in time after time.”
Tyler Goodjohn is taking some time away from BKB but is planning on returning to ring in September.
It seems Bare Knuckle Boxing is in the spot MMA found itself 25 years ago when the sport first started, with a lot of critics aghast at the violence. MMA has moved on and is now one of the fast growing sports in the world and with combat sports fans loving a good tear up we could see BKB have a massive rise.
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