Ever since Ricardo Franco burst onto the pro bare-knuckle boxing scene in 2017, he’s been making waves within the BKB community. The fighter came from humble beginnings in Lincolnshire and has fought across three continents, winning the title for super middleweight champion at the World Championships in London last November.
With less than two years of training behind him, Franco beat BKB legends Connor Tierney, James Connelly and Jimmy Sweeney, dethroning the latter to win the world title… so who is this fresh face on the bare-knuckle boxing scene?
Here’s everything you need to know about Rico Franco, including a summary of his most important fights and what’s in store for the boxer in 2020.
For many people who are interested in the BKB scene, it might seem like Rico ‘Bon Bon’ Franco came out of nowhere – and in some ways, he did. Although he has several years of martial arts experience under his belt, fighting mixed martial arts (MMA) in the US, Thailand, Russia and Italy, he only relatively recently turned his attention to bare-knuckle boxing.
Born and raised in North Lincolnshire, Franco’s career began at 18, when, as an amateur, he impressed numerous scouts who came to see him fight. In 2016, he turned pro and travelled the world fighting MMA.
Journey to BKB
Franco was 27 years old when he was scouted for bare-knuckle boxing, an avenue he hadn’t previously considered. Initially, the idea didn’t particularly appeal to him as he had dedicated his life to MMA, but once he started training in 2018, he began to get noticed for his BKB skills.
It was in this same year that he fought and won against renowned boxer James Connelly, bringing home £10,000 in prize money.
After just 18 months of training, he embarked on the fight that would catapult his career to new heights: the BKB World Championships, where he won an incredible fight against boxing legend Jimmy Sweeney.
Franco vs Sweeney
This epic fight took place in November 2019, in London’s O2 Arena: Jimmy Sweeney had been a BKB legend in his own right, and by comparison Franco was a newcomer with much less experience. In the sixth round, Franco won against Sweeney with a technical knockout and earned the crown as super middleweight champion.
With an impressive set of accolades behind him, at 27 Franco is in his prime and 2020 is set to be a massive year for the Northerner. With the LFA 80, UFC and the ONE Championship lined up in January alone, it’s going to be an exciting year to see how this new BKB champion will continue to surprise us.