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Inside bloody return of US bare-knuckle boxing
On Saturday night, Bobby Gunn and 19 other pro fighters staged the first legal, state-sanctioned fight in U.S. history -- changing the future of American combat sports forever.
He is repeating a mantra from the film Raging Bull to himself just moments before taking the stage for the first legal, state-sanctioned gloveless fighting event in U.S. history. “Come on, big f*cker—let’s go.”
Walking out to Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” in front of a screaming sold-out crowd of 2,000 beer-drinking, cowboy-hat-wearing locals at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center on the outskirts of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Gunn, 44, takes the stage.
He's squaring off against his younger and larger opponent, Irineu Beato Costa, Jr., a heavyweight boxer from Sau Paulo, Brazil.
Standing just feet apart, Gunn and Costa raise their fists in a blood-stained steel circular ring built for this event, a striking image in U.S. sports history: no boxing gloves.
“Knuckle up!” one of the two referees yells.
Gunn, long used to fighting bare knuckle in underground illegal brawls with no time limits, is now forced to take a more aggressive approach in the event’s fast-paced two-minute rounds.
Charging Costa, he throws a penetrating left hook to the liver, dropping him within seconds. After Costa manages a wobbly rise, Gunn then rushes him again, this time going for the kill -- another deep shot to the liver topped by a final overhand right hook to the temple as he falls.
The crowd roars. Costa lies crumpled on the ring. The fight is over. More