In this October 2019 photo, Chris Sarro of Ellsworth (facing front) delivers a knockout punch against Ras Hylton during their Mixed Martial Arts bout in Orono. Sarro lost his most recent Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship bout. Credit: Courtesy of Monty Rand Photography

Chris Sarro spent Tuesday afternoon far from his roots in Ellsworth, but being near the beaches of Miami, Florida, wasn’t all about rest and relaxation.

He was inside the city’s historic 5th Street Gymnasium, training for his Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship cruiserweight bout against Quentin Henry scheduled for Jan. 29, 2022, in Jackson, Mississippi.

Sarro’s sparring partner for the day? World Boxing Association heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan.

“I took some shots from the heavyweight champ that would have put the average pro down and I was surprised that with my conditioning now and how healthy I am that I took them,” said the 33-year-old Sarro. “Then I put some on him.”

One goal of Sarro’s workout with the undefeated Bryan (21-0, 15 KOs) was to avoid being hit, because few Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship upper weight-class bouts go the distance.

Take Sarro, whose 2-2 record includes just one fight that lasted past the first round. Henry, at 3-1, has had a similar fate in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship cage, with just one bout going beyond the opening round.

“In [Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship] we can’t take some [punches], we just have to give some so we have to be defensive,” said Sarro, a former Northern New England Golden Gloves boxing champion. “To get to that next level you have to be more disciplined. When I’m out there sparring I want to be smashing guys but I have to be working on defense and being slick and thinking because I can’t take any shots from Quentin or anyone else where I’m cut or it’s over. It’s who gets who first.”

Sarro began his bare knuckle fighting career two years ago with first-round stoppages of John McAllister and Billy Martin but has dropped his last two bouts to Josh Burns in the second round and to Ehsanullah Kakar 46 seconds into the opening round of his most recent bout on April 30 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sarro, who will fight Henry at 205 pounds, said he has adjusted his training regimen since then to focus more on sparring with the likes of Burns in Detroit and veteran kickboxer Warren Thompson in Atlanta than the running-oriented preparation he did in Puerto Rico before the Kakar fight.

He was supposed to fight on a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship card in Montana in October but that got sidetracked when Sarro contracted COVID-19, then a scheduled December bout in Tampa, Florida, also fell through.

“I had already cut 25 pounds for that fight and I’ve kept the weight off since then and now I’ve had a full camp at 220 pounds,” said Sarro, who struggled with a much larger weight cut before the Kakar bout. “Coming into this fight I’m fresh.”

Henry’s background comes primarily in the mixed martial arts cage where he compiled a 12-6 professional record between 2011 and 2018.

The West Monroe, Louisiana, product is 3-1 since joining Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship in August 2019 with two  first-round knockout victories preceding his lone loss by first-round knockout to former Ultimate Fighting Championship MMA standout Chris Leben.

Henry rebounded from that defeat by stopping Jason Fish in the second round of his most recent Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship bout on Aug. 20 at Biloxi, Mississippi.

Henry is ranked second in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship cruiserweight division while Sarro is eighth, and the winner could be in line for a title shot against recently crowned cruiserweight champion Lorenzo Hunt.

“Quentin’s earned his spot,” Sarro said. “He’s really tough, he’s really aggressive but I’m a way better boxer and I’m training with world champs and that’s the difference. He’s really aggressive but I don’t think he likes pressure.”

Henry and Sarro seemingly have been on a collision course for the last year and a half. When both fighters were coming off their initial Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship victories, Henry told his home parish newspaper, The Ouachita Citizen, in June 2020 that he looked forward to fighting the Mainer.

“He’s a good friend of mine now, which is the weird part, but I’ll be fine with that,” Sarro said. “He’s been to all of my fights and I’ve been to all of his, so it’s pretty close that way but I’m excited because once I go out there I flick the switch and it’s on.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...