British Bare Knuckle Champ vs Pro Boxer

In the late 80s and early 90s, West Midlands heavyweight Joe “Leathal Weapon” Savage, age 30 at the time, was the self-crowned world heavyweight bareknuckle champion (or Britain champion depending of the source) who supposedly wreaked havoc among the underground bare knuckle boxing circuit. With a self-proclaimed BKB record of 42 wins all by knockout with 0 loss, reportedly knocking seasoned pros unconscious with one punch.

In bareknuckle boxing, they do away with some of the smaller details AKA stupid shit like gloves and rules. Head-butting is fine, kicking goes down well, and if you fancy chewing on your opponent, no one stops you. Except the fucking police since bareknuckle boxing is illegal. Savage claims to be the veteran of 41 of these bouts, most of which have taken place behind the locked doors of warehouses.

Joe Savage (at left) certainly looked the part.
6 ft tall, stocky built, bald, and covered with tattoos.
Who is tougher, the street fighter or the professional fighter? For some reason this argument has been raging for generations. Some people seem to think that all the training and hard work that professionals put in does not compare to the “heart” or “rage” that street fighter exist. I am not one of those people. Just look at what happened to Kimbo Slice when he tried to stop fighting in back alleys and stepped into the cage.
An earlier, UK version, of Kimbo Slice was Joe Savage (these street fighters always have interesting names). source

One of the often asked questions on boxing forums by new fans is “just how hard is the sport of boxing?” And sadly this is a hard question to answer. Many seem to think that legendary toughmen like Lenny MClean could have competed well as a boxer and really made a name for himself had he wanted to go in to the sport rather than become an enforcer. One man supposedly toughman who did try out boxing, and found it harder than he expected was Britain’s Joe Savage.

Savage was supposed to have been a bare knuckle fighter from Britain, a legitimate toughman who was apparently 41-0 (40) or 42-0 (42KO) depending of the source in street fights and the English bare knuckle champion. A bit like the Kimbo Slice of his day, if you will. With his bare knuckle credentials behind him, Savage looked to turn his hand at sanctioned boxing, and in the early 1990’s he attempted to start a professional career.

In 1993 Savage was chosen as one of the fighters to take part in the up coming “People’s Choice One Night Heavyweight Tournament”. Sadly however in preparation for the tournament, a precursor to the likes of Prizefighter, Savage damaged his hand and was forced to pull out of the tournament. The following year however Savage did get his taste of professional boxing as he faced former world title contender “Smokin'” Bert Cooper.

Despite once being an all action exciting fighter, Cooper had been on the slide and had lost 4 of his previous 6 bouts (including his last 2) and his record read 31-13 (26). Whilst he had twice challenged for world titles he had also been stopped 9 times and was certainly seen as a fighter who, although packing a punch, wasn’t as durable as he once was. In fact a fighter like Savage, with some claimed 40KO’s in street fights should have enjoyed some success…the fight however showed the difference in class between a street fighter and a trained boxer. Enjoy.

Text from:

“I challenge Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno,” a serious Savage said, “in the same night. I’ll knock them out.”

The self-proclaimed Undefeated British Bare Knuckle champ Joe Savage challenged all the top pro boxers to fight him in boxing, Including Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, Razor Ruddock, and Frank Bruno they all turned him down (most likely didn’t even took notice since they have nothing to gain in facing unworthy jobbers for free). 

His catchphrase was “I want to kill everyone.”

Smokin Bert Cooper took the challenge. Huge Knockout at 3:00

That’s what happen when you put a street fighter up against a trained boxer.

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