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Austin Trout set for bareknuckle boxing debut against former MMA star

Austin Trout set for bareknuckle boxing debut against former MMA star featured image
Austin Trout is shown before the start of his title fight against IBF junior middleweight champion Jermall Charlo at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on May 21, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Former Junior Middleweight/Super Welterweight world champion Austin Trout will be stepping into the ring without gloves for his next match. He will be facing former UFC fighter Diego Sanchez whose last official fight ended in a unanimous decision loss to Kevin Lee, also a former UFC star. Both will be making their bare-knuckle boxing debut for the likewise-named BKFC (Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship) organization. Their match is slated for February 17th.

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Diego Sanchez will face Austin Trout in his official bare-knuckle boxing debut for the BKFC on February 17, 2023. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Since Austin Trout’s (36-5-1, 18 KO’s) last title fight in 2018 against now-undisputed champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KO’s), he has found himself on the fringes of world title contention. He now seems to be looking forward to testing himself on a format that’s similar to boxing, yet not the same.

“I am so excited,” Trout said in an interview. “I’m so hyped for many reasons, like, what it means for New Mexico, one. What it means to combat sports, two. The things that I’m allowed to do as far as fighting goes, you know, with the hands, being able to grab, hit, hold and cool little clinches.”

Bare-knuckle boxing as a sport allows its competitors to fight without the use of any boxing gloves. While rules per platform can differ as bare-knuckle boxing is not legalized anywhere, the BKFC makes use of a similar set of rules as boxing, but offers more leniency when it comes to such things as clinching and holding. Like in boxing, hitting an opponent while on the ground is not allowed.

BKFC is a promotion that has existed since 2018, and has thus far produced thirty-two shows with the majority having been held in the USA. Despite its growing popularity and the similarities it has to boxing, few well-known boxers have taken part in the BKFC and it is mostly considered a home for MMA fighters. The most recognizable name from boxing that participated for the BKFC was former and retired world champion Pauli Malignaggi, who was defeated in his only match to date by former UFC star Artem Lobov.