Reggie Barnett Jr takes on DeMarcus Corley in the BKFC 16 co-main event. It goes down on March 19, and emanates from Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The latest event from Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship broadcasts on FITE TV and the Bare Knuckle TV app.
This bout is mutually beneficial because Barnett Jr and Corley were both having issues locking down opponents prior to this.
“Well yeah, Chop Chop has been trying to break into bare-knuckle for a while, you know, and I respect that,” Barnett told us recently. “I think he had a fight with Travis Thompson that fell through at one point in the Toe The Line series. So now he’s in with me. I’m the guy he picked. I guess he thinks he can beat me to make his debut in BKFC. On March 19, he is going to find out that he was absolutely wrong.”
Reggie Barnett Jr
Barnett Jr is coming into this one thinking that Corley sees him as an easier, entry-level opponent but the former BKFC title challenger remains confident.
“Coming in without any actual bare knuckle experience. I’m number one for a reason. I respect everything he’s accomplished in boxing but this ain’t boxing.”
Reggie Barnett Jr has a family lineage in the gloved boxing game. He and his dad are acutely aware that Corley, who has captured world titles, has over eighty pro bouts, and has faced off with a myriad of big names (Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Zab Judah, etc).
Corley isn’t the only one who has a level of repute in the sweet science though. Reggie Barnett Jr captured the USBU super featherweight championship under Queensberry Rules before transitioning towards Broughton’s Rules.
Barnett Jr vs. Corley
While Reggie Barnett Jr himself admits it’s not quite on the level of say a WBC or IBF belt, it still indicates a level of proficiency in pugilism.
Barnett Jr’s transition into bare-knuckle boxing was initially met with some trepidation by Barnett Sr, who saw a future as a boxer for his son.
But that would change with the progression of BKFC, Jr’s aptitude in that ruleset, and the chance to make history by being on the first legal bare knuckle boxing event in well over a hundred years.
“I told my dad I was like, I’m gonna be a part of history forever,” Barnett recalled. “I’m his namesake. I said our name will be in history books. We will be part of something that hasn’t been done in over a century. When I was trying to convince my father to let me do bare-knuckle.”
Barnett Jr emerged victorious on the inaugural event and has put together a 5-1 BKFC record since.
“It’s been awesome. One, just to watch the promotion grow. And that in itself is a great thing because that’s always priority just trying to promote Bare Knuckle fighting and my craft in itself. As a fighter, just getting more exposure.”
“Being able to grow as a fighter and then also being able to grow as a human being and as a man. It’s been a great journey…This legacy that I’m building in bare-knuckle fighting. I’m going to the Hall of Fame.”
BKFC, and Breaking Hands
Barnett Jr broke both of his hands in his first BKFC fight. Since then, he has adopted some Broughton’s rule hand strengthening techniques to subvert possible issues in the future.
“You hit the nail on the head with the whole punching sand. I still do my brick wall training. It’s not as intense as it was for the first fight. I guess that’s more bare-knuckle sharpening. An old-school bare-knuckle fighter put me on to the sand and the tennis ball trick…That is the best way to strengthen your hand as opposed to hitting a wall. In my other recent fights, I haven’t had any hand damage.”
Considering Barnett Jr’s placement in the rankings and Corley’s level of profile, I thought to ask if this fight could be a title eliminator but Barnett Jr seemed a tad taken aback by that.
“Don’t see how it could be a title eliminator. I don’t know…guess some parts of it. Right now the way the league is building, people are bringing their own different merits. Maybe that’s what gives them their rankings.”
During our conversation, Barnett Jr also threw a bit of shade at Dat Nguyen claiming that his gloved boxing record is dubious at best and that Corley is far more accomplished under Queensberry Rules.
There is bad blood with reigning BKFC and Police Gazette champion Dat Nguyen where Nguyen evidently took things to a personal level with Barnett Jr. That’s a fight we could very well be looking at for later in 2021 if Reggie Barnett Jr gets the desired outcome on Friday night.
757 Boxing Club
757 Boxing Club’s lineage is one that continues to this day. Barnett Jr is looking to provide utility for the youth and continue the legacy that his father began when establishing the facility.
“The gym is called 757 Boxing. My dad’s been the owner for like the last 14 years. He opened it to actually keep me out of trouble and it didn’t work,” admitted Barnett. “I still went through my stresses in life, and all that. But when I came home like I said I was in the gym. I actually turned pro in MMA first because I just wanted to fight. I just wanted to fight.”
“Champions from the age of eight, all the way up to 17-18 years old adults. A couple other pro fighters. And then we just have a little mentor program. We reach out to other kids. They have struggles and we help them out. I do open gym every Sunday. Just open the gym to the public.”
Making the Transition
Asked if MMA fighters or boxers transition better into bare-knuckle, Barnett Jr indicated he very much doesn’t see things in that framework.
“Regardless, boxing, MMA, fighting, boxing, dirty boxing, all that is completely different from bare-knuckle. And, and what I always say, what I love about this sport is we’re still in the early phases. We’re still innovating, we’re still inventing… Every time I get in there, I bring something new.”
Barnett Jr also touched on how the most telling moment of this fight will be how DeMarcus Corley responds to taking his first bare-knuckle punch in competition. Some thrive in that fire, some get a wide-eyed look, and Barnett Jr sees that early response from Corley as a big indicator for how the fight could go.
In wrapping up our conversation, Barnett Jr kept it short and sweet with his thoughts heading into this match-up.
“Chop should have picked somebody else and then came after me.”