Glenn McCrory reckons bareknuckle boxing king Jimmy Sweeney could have been a contender in professional boxing.
Sweeney tests himself against a former world-class pro when he defends his world lightweight championship against Mexico’s Edgar Puerta at London’s O2 Indigo on Saturday night.
Puerta has challenged for the WBC super-featherweight title in his 39-fight pro career and as recently as last August, he took rounds off former two-weight world champion Humberto Soto.
He looks set to give Sweeney his toughest test yet in a career that’s helped raise the profile of bareknuckle boxing.
Sweeney had a successful amateur boxing career, but rather than turn pro, he took up bareknuckle boxing – and has conquered it, winning world titles at three weights and reversing his only loss with his unfathomable skills.
Last year’s clash with hard-as-nails Sean George decided the sport’s pound-for-pound No 1 – and Sweeney comfortably.
For six rounds, he barely took a punch and when George went for broke in the last, he ran onto shots and was stopped.
McCrory said: “(BKB founders) Jim (Freeman) and Joe (Brown) have brought the sport out of the barns and Jimmy has given it so much credibility.
“Jimmy does well because he thinks – and he’s tough.
“In bareknuckle boxing, you even have to think about where your punches are landing because if you hit them on the top of the head or elbows you can end up with a broken hand.
“Jimmy was a bit ahead of his time. He knew what he was doing from the start and now the others are catching up.
“He would have made a good pro. He’s aggressive, but thoughtful. He has toughness and brains.”
Sweeney has announced he only has two fights left before he quits and McCrory said: “It’s a shame he’s coming to the end just as bareknuckle boxing is breaking through. It won’t be long before we are at the O2.”