John Wayne Hibbert is the last pro to ditch his gloves to fight bareknuckle – and has set his sights on a rematch with the sport’s golden boy.
Hibbert launches his bareknuckle career against James Lilley – also an ex-gloved pro – at London’s O2 Indigo on Saturday, November 16 and the 34 year old from Horndon-on-the-Hill sees the fight as a stepping stone towards a shot at Tyler Goodjohn.
They met as pro gloved boxers in front of the Sky Sports cameras in 2015 and Hibbert was an eighth-round stoppage winner.
Goodjohn has gone on to become one of the stars of bareknuckle boxing and last month outpointed Sean George for the vacant world featherweight championship.
Hibbert, who was once mooted as a possible challenger for Ricky Burns when he held the WBA 140lbs belt, says he has Goodjohn in his sights.
He said: “I’m nervous, but I’m buzzing about boxing bareknuckle.
“It got to the stage in the pros where I was struggling to get fights and there were young lads coming through. I decided to hang the gloves up and do bareknuckle. I’ve watched it and it’s tickled my fancy.
“I’ve seen that Tyler’s doing well and I beat him with ease.
“I’ve got to focus on my next fight, but I want to beat Tyler again. He’s the face of bareknuckle boxing, he’s a big name and I know I can beat him.
“Me and Tyler are similar. He doesn’t give a monkey’s who he fights and I’m the same.”
Hibbert says he is having to tweak the style that took him into the world rankings as a gloved pro.
“I know how to fight,” he said. “I know I’m a good fighter. But if I’m going to do well at bareknuckle, I have to work on my defence. I’m going to have to move, I’m going to have to think more.
“I’m going to have to make changes, but it’s still boxing and anyway, good fighters adapt. I’m a good fighter.”