Horsham’s Ben Gumbrell experienced a baptism of fire to bare-knuckle boxing last Saturday. In a bout which many thought he won, the ‘Gladiator’ dropped his opponent to the canvas but narrowly lost on points.
The captivating bout was the quarter-final of Bare Knuckle Boxing (BKB)’s eight-man tournament with a £10,000 cash prize for the winner.
Ben’s debut was in the sold-out Indigo room in the 02 London in front of over 3,000 fans.
His opponent was Tony Lafferty from Scotland, who had an impressive 3-1 record.
Gumbrell was unfazed however. He said: “I like being the underdog and proving people wrong.”
With extraordinary composure, Gumbrell used his feet to nullify his opponent’s aggression. But the Scot landed a punch, leaving Ben with a cut close to his eyes. Two judges sided with Lafferty and the other with Gumbrell.
Gumbrell said: “Through the fight, I couldn’t see out of my left eye, caused by a headbutt in the first round.”
Gumbrell rocked his opponent with a clean left to the chin in the second.
Though his vision was obscured, Gumbrell didn’t falter. Still, two judges awarded the round to the Scotsman and the third called a draw.
Going into the final round, he knew he needed the knockout to win. In the closing seconds of the round, the Tiger pounced straight onto a 1-2 from Gumbrell. Down went Lafferty. The knockdown had scored Gumbrell a vital extra point.
After three rounds, the judges could not announce a winner. BKB co-owner Jim Freeman then called for an unprecedented bonus round decider. Despite a punctured lung and a broken rib suffered in training four weeks earlier, Gumbrell gave a valiant effort.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough. Gumbrell added: “It never needed to go the extra round, I had done enough already.
“I felt I won every round and pushed the whole fight.”