Anytime, anywhere. That is a phrase often thrown around the fight game. Davenport native, Shawn “The Exception” West is walking example of that sentiment and can now add the words any style to that as well. The mixed martial artist- turned boxer signed a deal with Bare Knuckle FC, combat sport’s newest no-glove league, and will make his debut in the organization this Saturday night, October 20th, on PPV. This is just after his first round TKO win just over a week ago against Jeff Farmer at Hola Iowa, Alien Boi Boxing and Calkins Sport Productions Present: All In at Rhythm City Casino in Rock Island, IL. “I had to ask the Bare Knuckle Fight Championships promoter if it was ok and they actually called their PR company,” explained West. “I begged and pleaded my case that I’m a fighter’s fighter and I’m going to show up even if something is wrong.”

Training for one fight is hard enough. Having only two weeks in between fights is almost unheard of and is very reminiscent to the old-school fight cards where people had multiple fights a night. But West sees longevity in his stand up career and has pretty much put MMA in the backseat for now to focus on his boxing game, gloves or no gloves. “The grappling nights are rough on me but I’m making sure I’m training very hard right up to this fight, so if I do have to baby some wounds for the next two weeks my cardio doesn’t drop to low,” said West. “And fortunately, it’s boxing as well and I went to Cedar Rapids to get some boxing in with a couple guys up there. I got a few MMA rounds in too but I really wanted to stay away from leg kicks because I didn’t want to alter my form.”


Helping him prepare for these fights will be former MMA fighter and owner of Big 5 Power and Conditioning, Josh Howat. And West and Howat have not deviated far from the path they have both known for quite some time now when it comes to work in the gym before his fights. “I like the fact that he’s willing to put himself into multiple realms and I like the fact that he’s so versatile that he can step in whether its MMA, straight strict boxing and now bare knuckle boxing. I think its fantastic.” said Howat. And as boxing is often called the sweet science, Howat compares his training style as the sweet music. “We haven’t really adjusted too much with his training,” explained Howat. “This is dating me but in the days of having a graphic equalizer, we’ve just shifted some of the treble and bass. We haven’t switched anything off, we’ve just turned the bass up and turned the treble down a bit and balanced us.”

West knows he’s new to the boxing game and is still finding his way, but even knowing that, he is confident that he will find longevity in the combat game, and maybe some new found fame that was lacking for him in the MMA world. “I’m so new to this sport and I don’t even know what my boxing style is,” said West. “I’m still trying to figure out who I am as a fighter.”
And he is excited to take what he’s learned in MMA and apply it towards his next few fights whether its boxing or bare knuckle. “I’ve been fortunate enough to not get hit, and here’s the benefit of that to the bare knuckle boxing,” explained West. “The range is very different than boxing. I feel like a lot of these fighters go at this bareknuckle boxing with a boxers range. When they should be looking at it more as an MMA range with the smaller gloves.”

Whether in the cage, ring or making his debut this week as the first person in the Quad Cities to join the Bare Knuckle FC roster, West talks longevity in the sport but it seems like he is also looking to leave a legacy for those that come after him. “I might not be the best fighter to come out of the Quad Cities,” said West. “But I definitely want to be known as ‘this guy fought a lot’. I want people to remember me as a fighter in general so they know, this guy did bareknuckle and he did kickboxing and MMA. I just love to fight and love to compete.”

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Photo credit: Nicholas Cunningham

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