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June 20, 2019

Boxing vs MMA Inside a Bare Knuckle Ring!

An opinion piece by Ivan Spasov
Editor-In-Chief at FITE.TV

Who would win in a bare knuckle fight? A boxer or an MMA fighter? Tune in on BKFC 6: Lobov vs Malignaggi and see how bare knuckle fighting evolves.

Combat Sports have evolved!

Not too long ago, Brock Lesnar was the UFC heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko ruled Boxing's heavyweights with an iron fist and Bobby Gunn was fighting in an illegal sport through storage houses. How far have we come from that time until now.

MMA is legal in New York, the Boxing heavyweight division is getting back to its glory days while draws between equally matched top competitors are happening left and right. Another thing that shook the industry to the core was the Bare Knuckle scene. What nobody thought would see on PPV is now made legal and is gaining mainstream popularity!

At the forefront of it all is the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship! Ever since their first event, BKFC have been breaking grounds and barriers, showing to the mainstream audience what hardcore combat sports fans have already known for years - the excitement, the form, the pure thrill and artistic genius of fighting with no gloves on!

A former Boxing champ vs a Top MMA contender!

With what Bare Knuckle Fighting brings to the table, it's no surprise that such great names like Chris Leben, Joey Beltran, Bobby Gunn and many more have come on board and fought in the ring. But what we have at BKFC 6 is something truly unique.

Former Boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi and MMA great Artem Lobov have created a very intense feud between each other that they will resolve with no gloves and in the Bare Knuckle ring!

Paulie still holds a grudge after his conflict with Conor McGregor and it looks like he has shifted his focus to the Irishman's close friend Artem Lobov. Lobov, never shying away from a conflict is more than ready to take on Malignaggi at every step!

It's times like this that make me happy to be a Combat Sports fan!

With that being said, there is a question that everybody seems to ask.

Who would win in a bare knuckle fight? A boxer or an MMA fighter?

This is not easy to answer. Top MMA stars appear to be ruling over the bare knuckle scene. Chris Leben is demolishing people left and right. Artem Lobov himself has produced an all time classic in his fight against Jason Knight at BKFC 5. And talking about instant classics, who can forget Joey Beltran vs Tony Lopez from the first BKFC? It does appear that MMA fighters have a special aptitude for this type of fighting. Throwing shots with bad intentions while not relying on big gloves for defense is something an MMA fighter is all too familiar with.

On the other hand, Bobby Gunn shows why boxers are so devastating especially in a game where hands rule the field. His one shot first round KO victory at BKFC 1 was a display of pure boxing class.

The question on everybody's mind right now is …

Is Malignaggi ready for this type of fight?

Paulie is a world class athlete and an elite level Boxer. However he's been retired for some time now. Imagine the situation of coming back to fighting with a bare knuckle match of all things. Will Paulie be in shape? Will he be able to adapt to the difference in defence or will he revert to the Boxing way of doing things? How much will not having protection on the hands limit his punching ability? Will he be able to take the shots and still dish back?

Artem Lobov has stepped into the bare knuckle ring before, which is also a critical advantage. Whatever the case, one thing is for sure … his timing, precision, technique and power can lead him into victory at any given point in the fight.

Can Lobov overcome Malignaggi's punching ability?

We've seen what happens when elite MMA and kickboxing athletes fight boxers in boxing. Just take a look at Conor McGregor's loss to Floyd Mayweather or Tenshin Nasukawa's loss to the latter. Boxers specialize in boxing and in turn - in punching. Boxers are unparalleled in their punching ability and Paulie Malignaggi is unparalleled among most boxers. Artem Lobov is an MMA fighter facing off that same person. Artem has probably never fought someone with such pure punching skills. Bare knuckle fighting seems to be tailor made for someone like Malignaggi. However we must keep in mind that this is not boxing.

This is something else - it's bare knuckle! Aggression, heart and the willingness to win trumps everything. And while boxing is based on punching, the sweet science doesn't translate well to a sport that negates their base of defense. Artem Lobov has tasted blood and has tested his chin. Bare knuckle fighting is his backyard and Paulie is the guest.

Some final thoughts

Remember the days when MMA was a clash between other combat sports? Today MMA is a fighting style in itself. We're at a point in bare knuckle fighting where nobody knows what the most effective style is to get the win. Is it something similar to traditional boxing? Or MMA? Likely neither. The style of bare knuckle fighting is made with each and every match, each and every event … and clashes like the one between Lobov and Malignaggi will lay the groundwork for what is to come.

Tune in on BKFC 6: Lobov vs Malignaggi and see how bare knuckle fighting evolves.