A Bareknuckle Boxing Primer

All of my regular readers — both of you — know that I'm always on the lookout for new (to me) sports to dive headlong into.

One such sport over the past year or so has been bareknuckle boxing. Here's a sport where I don't have nearly as much to explain as other sports, because bareknuckle boxing does just what it says on the tin.

There are some differences, however, besides the obvious, between bareknuckle boxing and regular boxing. There are only five rounds, and those rounds are just two minutes each. The match takes place in a circle, I guess to carve out a niche since a square ring and octagon are already taken by other combat sports.

There are two "scratch lines" in the center of the ring, which each fighter is supposed to begin the fight with one foot on. This is either ceremonial or bareknuckle boxing has some sloppy refs, because I have seen fights and rounds where one of the fighters was all of the way off their scratch line, either in front of it or behind it.

The rounds start with the ref announcing "Knuckle up!" which, like the circular ring, is niche-carving.

These are the main differences between the gloved and ungloved versions of boxing. I've been a boxing fan for a long time, and I am becoming a bareknuckle fan, as well. You might be wondering if it's more brutal than regular boxing, and the surprising answer, from me at least, is "no."

The punches are not more visceral, at least not on the screen, than boxing-gloved punches (or MMA-gloved punches, for that matter). A beaten and bloody bareknuckle combatant doesn't look noticeably worse than a beaten and bloody boxing combatant; I suspect this is down to fights being 10 minutes (5 rounds x 2 minutes) maximum, whereas championship boxing matches can be as many as 36 minutes (12 rounds x 3 minutes).

I'm a betting man, and as bareknuckle boxing is still fledgling, there are fewer numbers and records to crunch. The latest bareknuckle event was this past weekend, and you can see how there were plenty of debutantes on the card, and no one with more than 7 bareknuckle fights on their resume. The main (basically only) bareknuckle promotion in the U.S. is sponsored by BetOnline, so it's easy to place bets there.

One fight I'd like to zero in on is Elvin Brito's majority decision win against Julio Garcia. Brito comes from an MMA background and Garcia comes from a boxing background.

Garcia seemed to be landing twice the number of punches as Brito, and seemed to me to be winning the fight handily, but the commentators did not acknowledge this. Instead, they waxed rhapsodic about how ex-boxers do not have an advantage over ex-MMA guys in bareknuckle; in fact, it's the opposite.

Their affinity for ex-MMA guys and comparative disdain for ex-boxers was so overwhelming I was ready to bitch on Twitter to them about it. But, I waited for the fight to end (it went the distance and no knockdowns were scored). The stats showed Garcia landed 40 more punches, and with a higher connection percentage, than Brito. Nevertheless, the judges gave the fight to Brito, and the commentators were vindicated.

One thing the commentators said (and I hear this all the time in boxing) is that soft/pitty-pat/your-pejorative-here punches should not and don't count for much. I too want power, and rocking your opponent, to mean something.

But Jaysus, my man Garcia out-landed the winner by 40 PUNCHES IN 10 MINUTES. If we do not care about who lands more punches whatsoever, how can we call this the sweet science? What makes it that is the way to find your way to the body or head against a guy trying to guard those things. If only punch power matters (and FYI, Garcia was hitting as hard as Brito by my lights), let's just forego with the fight and just measure punching power on a machine, and declare the winner the guy who registers harder by this metric.

Yes, I bet on Garcia and I am bitter. But I learned a valuable lesson: if you are trying to figure out whom to lay money on in a bareknuckle fight, and one comes from MMA and the other comes from boxing, bet only on the MMA guy until further notice.

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August 30, 2021

sudoku 247:

Hand-to-hand combat and real combat, I believe in MMA above all else!

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