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I fought Kell Brook and Liam Smith, now I’m the best bare-knuckle boxer on the planet with highlight reel of brutal knockouts

Barrie Jones has had an unremarkable professional boxing career, but he’s in a league of his own without the gloves.

“The Welsh Wrecking Machine” is widely considered the best bare-knuckle boxer on the planet, pound for pound, with an unblemished 10-0 record and world titles in three different weight classes.

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Jones is a world bare-knuckle boxing champion in all three weightsCredit: Tee Reskah

But as a gloved pro, Jones was somewhat underperforming.

The Rhondda puncher won 72 of 79 amateur bouts and claimed nine consecutive Welsh titles before turning professional in 2004.

He did so with high expectations on his shoulders, however, Jones was unable to win more than a single Welsh region super welterweight title in the paid ranks.

His biggest night as a professional came in 2008 when he was thrust into a British title fight against a young Kell Brook.

Three months previously, Jones had been defeated by Tony Doherty when fighting for the Welsh region welterweight belt.

But he had the opportunity to box Brook on short notice after former Lonsdale titleholder Kevin McIntyre withdrew due to injury.

“I was on holiday in Türkiye at the time,” Jones told talkSPORT.com. “My father called me to tell me about the fight.

“He was supposed to fight Kevin McIntyre, he was the Scottish champion but they knocked him out.

He retired from boxing with a record of 22-10

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He retired from boxing with a record of 22-10Credit: GETTY

“He was a lefty, like me, so I think they chose me because of that.

“I had a little over two weeks to train, which isn’t really enough, is it? But when you have an opportunity like this, you have to take it.

Meet Jimmy Sweeney, the Floyd Mayweather of bare-knuckle boxing who made his name knocking out UFC stars

“I went into the fight exactly the same way I did in the Doherty fight, I thought I could save some energy in the later rounds by starting slowly. But the fight got away from me.”

The contest was halted in the seventh round after Jones’ corner threw in the towel.

Yet it must be acknowledged that the Welshman overcame everything Brook threw at him and remained on his feet throughout the competition.

And three years later, Jones fought another future world champion, Liam Smith, at the Liverpool Olympia.

Once again, he was stopped short – this time via a body shot in the third stanza.

Jones fought seven more times before hanging up his gloves in 2015, finishing his career with a 22-10 record.

Brook and Jones clashed in 2008

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Brook and Jones clashed in 2008
Jones also shared the ring with Smith as a pro

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Jones also shared the ring with Smith as a pro

Three years would pass until he stepped back between the ropes again, although this time it was into the brutal world of bare-knuckle boxing.

In 2018, Jones signed with BKBtm, the UK’s leading bare-knuckle promotion – and he took to the sport like a duck to water.

“I didn’t really understand what I was getting into, I’d never watched it or anything,” Jones added.

“It was my friend Hari Miles (a former BKBtm heavyweight) who introduced me to it.

“Until I started, I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a brutal sport but I love it and it suits me well…

“As a boxer I didn’t want to get that involved and I chose to box rather than fight, but with your bare hands you have no choice but to fight, which I I learned, is my strength.

“I train exactly the same as when I boxed, apart from a little more strength and conditioning, but I’m a lot more aggressive now.

“I didn’t have many stoppages in the pros (9 KOs) because of my style, but now I have quite a few in bare knuckles.”

Nine of Jones’ ten bare-knuckle victories have come by way of knockout, with Jonny Tello the only man able to withstand the 39-year-old’s earth-shattering power.

In his first attempt at a BKBtm world title, against Ismet Minaz in 2021, he stunned the traveling Turk and sent him tumbling into the ropes.

Meanwhile, the usually durable Luiz Melo was dispatched 15 seconds after the Brazilian MMA fighter made the ill-advised decision to exchange in the pocket with Jones.

But the fights that most defined his illustrious career were his back-to-back victories against Hall of Famer Jimmy Sweeney in April and September 2022.

Sweeney is the most decorated bare-knuckle boxer of all time (four-weight world champion) and has reigned supreme over the sport for the past ten years.

Until his meeting with Jones, the Irishman had beaten every man he had faced.

But Jones overcame the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against him to stop Sweeney twice.

“When I first got into the sport I asked, ‘Who is the best bare-knuckle boxer’ and everyone told me it was Jimmy Sweeney, so that made me want to fight him at this moment.

The Welshman has won by knockout in nine of his ten fights

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The Welshman has won by knockout in nine of his ten fightsCredit: Tee Reskah

“It took me a few years to win the fight, but after I went to America and knocked out Melo, Joe Brown (BKBtm promoter) offered it to me.

“Fair play to Jimmy, he didn’t have to fight. I was probably all risk for him and no reward.

“In the pre-fight preparation, everyone was saying, ‘He’s in the best shape of his life, no one beats this version of Jimmy Sweeney.’

“I moved up a weight to make him face 80kg and when we got on the scales I weighed 74kg, which was 6kg lighter.

“So I drank two bottles of water, ate some food and stepped back on the scale. I then weighed about 76kg, which meant we could fight.

“In the first fight he started really well and had two great rounds. He was so fast and he even cut me, no man had done that before.

“But I was happy to go through it and I knew I would catch it eventually – and I did.

“I hit with a good right hand and his eye socket disappeared. We rematched five months later and I dropped him twice and then they waved him off at the end of the first round.”

As he approaches his 40th birthday, it’s unclear what the future holds for Jones.

He has toyed with the idea of ​​retiring several times over the past two years, but admits he continues to be “drawn” to the big fights.

If he wants to compete again, Jones insists it will be against a name that will “contribute to his legacy.”

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