Boxing faces a possible new challenge from its own history.
The bosses behind bareknuckle boxing say they are “a threat to boxing” and it’s a threat that’s being taken seriously by the British Boxing Board of Control.
“We are against it, obviously,” said Robert Smith, General Secretary of the Board.
“I don’t know too much about it, but we don’t think it’s the right thing to do.
“I don’t know much about the medical provisions, but they wouldn’t be like ours.”
Not so, says Jim Freeman, the co-owner of leading bareknuckle promoters UBBAD.
“Safety wise, we tick all the boxes,” said Freeman, a businessman from Wellingborough, Northants.
“We have a mobile brain scanner, doctors at ringside who check both fighters in between rounds, there are medics and an ambulance.
“Fighters get a 20-second count when they go down, there is a 90-second break in between rounds and we have doctors at ringside who can throw in the red towel and stop a fight at any time.”
Bareknuckle boxing actually isn’t bareknuckle boxing.
By law, fighters wear hand wraps, but without the added protection of the gloves, there are more quick knockouts and fewer long, punishing fights.
Better for the fighters, says Freeman, and better for the audiences.
“People want knockouts,” he said, “and when they go to bareknuckle shows, they get knockouts.”
Whatever you think of bareknuckle boxing, it’s found an audience – and it’s growing.
“There are a lot of boxing shows that don’t sell as many tickets as we do,” said Freeman, who has staged shows at the O2 Indigo and Echo Arena this year.