With BKB 18 just around the corner ‘Toe The Line’ attempts to predict the wildly unpredictable with George Glinski and Paolo Lucci’s BKB 18 picks.
Hubert Geven vs Bachir Fakhouri
George Glinski: Hubert Geven. Two debutants who have cut their teeth in the world of kickboxing. Hubert Geven and Bachir Fakhouri look set to put on a real barn burner in the opening bout of the evening. My head says Geven here, due to his composure and ability to counter off the wilder strikes of Fakhouri. Yet looking at training footage from Bachir’s camp it seems his technique has tightened, with noticeable improvements to his chin tuck which had admittedly worried me coming in. When you consider the evolutions to his game and the ridiculous punching power of the former British Taekwondo fighter, this one becomes a lot harder to predict.
Paolo Lucci: Hubert Geven. Blink and you’ll miss it. Bash is extraordinarily heavy-handed. Coming down from 88kg, the human highlight reel is capable of one-punch knockouts in 10oz gloves. He’s made no secret that he’s not coming to box and is looking for a knockout. However, his Taekwondo background means his chin can be left too high. Hubert has more punching experience as an MMA and kickboxing pro. To me, NetBet have been too one-sided in their odds. Toss a coin- the winner is whoever lands first.
Paul Stredder vs Mark Rawes
George Glinski: Mark Rawes. An underdog coming into this one, Mark Rawes makes his BKB debut free of the pressure of expectation. As fundamentally sound as they come, Rawes combines crisp accurate striking with excellent timing. Rawes’ ability to find his target with such precision is what sways me. The added necessity of accuracy in Bare Knuckle cannot be overlooked. However, I am by no means writing off Stredder, in fact, I see this as one of the closest calls on the card. Paul carries the experience advantage in both gloved and gloveless boxing as a two time ABA finalist and two fight Bare Knuckle veteran. Tough as old boots Stredder will look to take Rawes to depths he has never experienced before. Yet I worry about the Liverpoodlians scar tissue particularly around his left eye, which if targeted correctly could lead to a doctors stoppage.
Paolo Lucci: Paul Stredder. Originally, the bookies couldn’t separate these two. In a fight that could go either way, I think Stredder takes it. As a two-time ABA finalist, he has the better boxing pedigree than opponent Mark Rawes who fought in White Collar before going semi-pro. Stredder has had two bareknuckle fights, while Mark makes his bareknuckle debut. Mark is by no means to be counted out though. He is a good technical boxer and seven years younger than Paul, who was dropped and stopped in his last BKB fight. It’s a close one, but I feel Paul wants it more.
Tony Lafferty vs Ben Gumbrell
George Glinski: Tony Lafferty. I don’t think you can underestimate the experience discrepancy in this one, with Gumbrell making his BKB debut against a grizzled veteran of the sport. I also see this as an awkward stylistic matchup for Gumbrell as a fighter with a particularly upright stance coming in against one of the best level changers in the sport. What Lafferty does well is evident, a forward-marching brawler with boxing skills to match his intensity and heart. Not an easy match up for a debutant in need of a feeling-out process. However, Gumbrell does carry deceptively quick hands which could cause Lafferty some real problems if timed correctly.
Paolo Lucci: Tony Lafferty. The most striking comparison is Bare Knuckle experience. Lafferty is 3-1 in BKB, while Ben makes his Bare Knuckle debut. This plays heavily in the Tiger’s favour, who has walked out to the Indigo 02 several times already. That said, the boxing experience is Gumbrell’s. He’s been boxing since 14 and achieved a lot over his 38-fight amateur career. The men will play to their strengths, with Ben looking to box and Tony looking to scrap. However, I see the fight turning into a war. Ben is a natural fighter, but I think that Tony leaves with the win on this occasion.
Smudger Smith vs Jeff Chiffens
George Glinski: Smudger Smith. Smudger’s cleaner boxing technique and ability to weather a storm are defining characteristics in this fight. Slick counters and high-quality footwork are possessed in abundance and stand as the perfect remedy for a front foot fighter like Chiffens. That being said Chiffens’ style is tremendously unorthodox, with his strikes carrying the ability to slip through guards due to their trajectory from below the hip. Nevertheless, I believe Smudger will deal with Jeff’s style well, as a man who is comfortable anywhere a fight takes him.
Paolo Lucci: Smudger Smith. Tournament number one seed Smudger will likely be too classy for underdog Chiffens. Smudger’s boxing background and BKB experience puts him in good stead to avoid the American’s unpredictable shots. Smith is also the naturally bigger man. Only four months ago he weighed 83kg, while Chiffens weighed in at just over 70kg for his last fight. Don’t take the result for granted though. This is Bare Knuckle. Maverick Chiffens baffled his last opponent and won via one-punch KO in the first round. Because of his gloved experience and the class he has fought Bare Knuckle at, I call Smudger via knockout.
Matty Askin vs Danny Batchelder
George Glinski: Matty Askin. Two incredibly experienced professional Boxers collide in this hotly anticipated Cruiserweight contest. Yet in terms of gloveless experience there is no comparison. Askin makes his debut against Batchelder who has competed at BKB 4, alongside a wealth of underground American experience dating back to the 90’s. Stylistically Batchelders explosive bursts of aggression don’t match up well with a fighter like Askin who prefers to plant his feet. As a result what we get is the unfortunate likelihood of Batchelder walking on to one of Askin’s patented right hands. Comfortable at all ranges, I see a bright future for the former British Champion.
Paolo Lucci: Matty Askin. Out of two former gloved Cruiserweight champions, Batchelder has more experience. Over his 31 – 11- 1 career, he fought Dimitrenko, Pulev and even took James Toney to a split decision. That said, Askin’s resumé is nothing to be sniffed at. Over his 23-4-1 campaign, the “Assassin” won the British Cruiserweight Title and narrowly missed out on the Commonwealth. Physically, the advantage is with firmly with Askin. The 30-year-old is almost 13 years Batchelder’s junior. He is also three inches taller and has a two-inch reach advantage. I believe Askin’s size, youth and more recent professional activity outweigh Batchelder’s experience.
Paul Hilz vs Jack Arnfield
George Glinski: Paul Hilz. A clash of two styles Hilz versus Arnfield is a battle for distance in this age-old Bare Knuckle formula. Hilz’s keys to victory lie in his ability to close the distance and make his opponents pay. While Arnfield looks to establish his range and out-box the freight train steaming towards him. Personally I back Hilz here, the sheer ferocity of the man is an element in itself. Constantly coming forwards, I see Hilz refusing Arnfield the space to settle as he uglifies the exchanges. Of course, I in no way discount Arnfields ability as one of the very best pure boxers in BKB today. I just feel that the stylistic match up and nature of the sport sways towards Hilz, with the smaller ring making distance management that little bit harder for Arnfield.
Paolo Lucci: Jack Arnfield. Going off gloved records alone, former WBA International Champion Arnfield would be the obvious choice. The younger, taller and rangier man is the bookies’ pick too. But not so fast. Hilz comes from a scintillating first round knockout at BKB17, while Arnfield is yet to experience Bare Knuckle action in a ring. Hilz’ particular stance and the small size of the ring will trouble Arnfield. This boxer v brawler fight will see Hilz come forward and Arnfield try to outbox him. Though my heart says Hilz, I’m marginally going with my head.
Darren Hendry vs Dan McGraffin
George Glinski: Darren Hendry. The experience advantage clearly goes to Hendry who has two Bare Knuckle fights opposite two Bare Knuckle finishes and an impressive undefeated ABA record. A fighter with devastating one-punch knockout power and freakish physicality, Hendry certainly looks the part and for me walks away the victor. Yet you cannot completely write off someone like Dan McGraffin, a proven savage with an arsenal of crippling body shots and a relentless work ethic. Still his three years of combat experience perhaps look to be a decider against a far more conditioned foe.
Paolo Lucci: Darren Hendry. The boxing experience is certainly Hendry’s. As an amateur, Hendry won the Harringay Cup in 2018 and claims to be unbeaten as a Senior. Further, he’s already had two Bare Knuckle fights, ending both quickly. Meanwhile, McGraffin only started boxing three years ago on the White Collar scene. He’s never had a professional Bare Knuckle bout, but McGraffin is unbeaten as an MMA amateur. McGraffin is highly active and has progressed quickly. Overall though, in such a small ring for two big lads, I think Hendry’s aggression and experience will get him the win.
Kris Trezise vs Robby Drought
George Glinski: Kris Trezise. A legend of Bare Knuckle Boxing and one of the most experienced guys in the game today, Kris Trezise enters the ring having been in there with the best of the best. The natural hesitancy of the debutant does not bode well against someone like Trezise who brings such immense intensity to every fight. Of course, I do not wish to come across as cliche, but fights like this tend to falter for the fighter that takes the first step back. Trezise will look to engage his reach and size advantage and establish his dominance over the competition. This proven formula tends to fall in his favour especially when facing a less experienced opponent. Not to take anything away from Drought of course who has strong Amateur boxing and Muay Thai credentials.
Paolo Lucci: Kris Trezise. Bareknuckle debutant Drought is not to be underestimated. Having boxed age six to 17, Drought has ten amateur fights experience. He then moved on to have 12 Muay Thai fights and one K1 fight. Cork’s Drought is a local hero for his entertaining style and is used to withstanding knees, elbows and kicks. However, former British Middleweight Champion Kris Trezise will likely prove too much. Trez is 4-1-2 in BKB, with his one loss coming from pound-for-pound king Jimmy Sweeney. His experience takes him to 5-1-2.
Marc Navarro vs Barrie Jones
George Glinski: Barrie Jones. Wales versus Scotland, adored versus abhorred no matter which way you look at this fight, you want to watch it. Heart, chin and toughness battles power and precision, in what will surely be an absolute war. It will take a lot from Jones to put the seemingly immovable Navarro to the canvas yet the power that Jones possesses is not to be underestimated. Particularly his straight left which lands consistently against orthodox Boxers like Navarro. On the other side of the coin, Navarro does well in walking through his opponents punches into his prefered striking range.Barrie will have to make good use of head movement and meet the openings he creates with violence, in order to avoid an undesirable back and forth.
Paolo Lucci: Barrie Jones. The incredibly durable Marc Navarro may have the best chin in BKB. The Scot has certainly improved over his career, most notably in defensive movement. However, I believe former Welsh Champion Barrie Jones is still a class above. In his two BKB fights, the hard-hitting Barrie Jones used excellent ringmanship to walk his opponents down and quickly dispatch them with well placed shots. Southpaw Jones’ boxing pedigree earns the win over the fearless Dundee Soldier. Skills pay the bills.
Sean George vs Tyler Goodjohn
George Glinski: Tyler Goodjohn. This fight is exactly what BKB is all about. Two of the very best the company battling it out for the World Featherweight Title. George clearly holds the experience advantage here with a strong 10-2-3 record opposite Goodjohn’s 2-0, which cannot be overlooked. The Welshman has seen just about everything there is to see in this game and will remain unphased no matter what Goodjohn throws at him. Yet it’s what Goodjohn will throw that sets him apart from anyone George has faced. El Tornado’s head and body movement is quite frankly outstanding and intertwines perfectly with his fluid combination punching. This clash makes for incredible viewership and is almost impossible to call. No matter how good Goodjohn may be , George will remain latched to his foe all seven rounds, searching for that knock out blow. Dealing with a man like this is no easy task especially when you consider George is primarily a hooker meaning all that lateral movement is a consistent target. I edge Goodjohn by decision but if one man is to finish it I back George.
Paolo Lucci: Tyler Goodjohn. This fight guarantees to be a bareknuckle masterpiece. George hits hard and has the best engine of any fighter on the roster, making him dangerous over any distance. The Outlaw’s excellent chin, stamina and bareknuckle championship experience make him hard to stop. The Welshman will find success if his feet and lateral movement can keep his opponent at the longer distance he prefers. Goodjohn has extraordinary head and upper body movement. Defence has never looked so good. Most impressive, is the way he changes vertical levels to switch between offense and defence. El Tornado was 13-5 as a gloved pro, while George comes from a Thai Boxing/MMA background. Goodjohn is certainly the better boxer and this may edge it for him. In the hardest fight to call, I’d marginally choose Goodjohn via decision.
Jimmy Sweeney vs Jean Carlos Prada Jr.
George Glinski: Jimmy Sweeney. It’s hard to bet against the pound-for-pound king, especially considering the level he rose to in his last fight. Personally I don’t see Prada as on the same level as Sweeney’s former opponent Puerta. I also raise considerable concerns over the Venezuelans chin. Currently, Prada has ten losses by knockout on his record, with five of those coming in his last seven. Yet the former Olympian does show signs of being a solid transfer with ferocious punching power, particularly when ripped to the body. Sweeney’s route to success is simply in sticking to his primary game plan of dictating the pace and whipping those sharp hooks from behind the jab. Ultimately Sweeney’s unorthodox movement patterns and expert timing prove to be the decider for me. And still.
Paolo Lucci: Jimmy Sweeney. The highly experienced Prada represented Venezuela at the 2004 Olympics and racked up 37 wins from 48 pro bouts. However, the southpaw’s chin is unconvincing. All ten of his gloved losses are via knockout, several being in the early rounds. In the ten fights Prada’s had over the last year, he has lost six. The challenger’s lack of Bare Knuckle experience and questionable chin may spell out an early night home when he faces the ‘King of BKB’.