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“It’s strange, fighters like Jake LaMotta have all those wars and finish up fine, yet another guy might die after a fight. It’s like a lottery.” – former Canadian junior middleweight champion Manny Sobral to ESPN’s Graham Houston

Boxing has always been a gladiator sport. Like all forms of combative competition, getting hurt and seriously injured (or worse) in the boxing ring is one constant thing that will never change. And despite modernized rules, safety precautions, and improved equipment, a boxer will always be prone to injuries and in certain cases, have a highway chase with death itself

But as reported by Fort Smith Examiner and former 8 Count News colleague Lorne “Preacher Man” Scoggins in his most recent article, bare knuckle boxing is slowly getting some resuscitation and its main proponent is Bobby Gunn, former world cruiserweight title contender. Gunn, along with MMA fighter Chris ‘The Butcher’ Thompson, will engage in the first bare knuckle event since July 8, 1889, when John Sullivan knocked Jake Kilrain out after 75 rounds of crude fistic action.

Bare knuckle boxing

On top of it all, the said Gunn vs. Thompson event will be governed under the London Prize Fight Rules, boxing regulations in its most primitive form. “It’s going to be under the London Prize Fight rules. The only thing that will be modified is that it’s going to be 90-second rounds. There will be 10 rounds,” Gunn told Scoggins.

One  does not have to be a historian of the sport to know what the gist of bare knuckle boxing is. Two fighters going at each other and trying to beat the living hell out of each other sans the boxing gloves. It’s brutal and it’s a lot riskier than modern prizefighting, regardless if supporters of such event say they had rules, timekeepers, and medical teams standing by.

In recent years, the sport of boxing has never ceased in getting its share of ring deaths. And in most cases, victims were rushed to the hospital and were given immediate medical attention. And if such is the fact, why revert to the sport’s archaic regulations? As Gunn said, this “wonderful sport” is something fight fans would want.

It is true that most fight fans want blood and gore in every boxing match they watch. But a death in the ring is something no one really wants to entertain, much less endure. It’s a hurt business and no matter how many times purists tell you that boxing is all about hitting without getting hit, that is not the case. And never will be. As what the comedian Russell Peters would say, “somebody is gonna get hurt real bad.”

While most instances of ring deaths happen right after the fight, or moments after, there are rare occasions in which the victim never felt any pressing signs of damage and even appeared normally functional before succumbing to the punishing blows their body took.

Such was the case of Pedro Alcazar of Panama, former world champion. Alcazar faced off with Fernando Montiel on June 22nd , 2002 for the former’s WBO super flyweight crown. After losing the title to Montiel after six round, Alcazar never displayed any signs of trauma and event went on a sightseeing tour the day after his bout. He collapsed in his hotel room while preparing for his flight back to his country. He died later.

The point being that bare knuckle boxing was banned for a reason. And if ring deaths and serious, life-altering injuries are still happening despite updated boxing rules, safety measures, and improved equipment, there is no reason, NO REASON AT ALL, to resurrect such brutal form of the sport we, fight fans, love.

Click here to see list of ring deaths from 1732-March 15th, 2007

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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.