“Your Local Ninja” Tom Shoaff will return to the Bare Knuckle FC squared circle for a fourth time when he meets Joe Elmore in Daytona Beach, Florida at BKFC 12 on September 11.
The scheduled 165-pound bout will be part of the promotion’s pay-per-view card headlined by former UFC welterweight title contender Thiago Alves and Julian Lane who takes the fight on short notice after Phil Baroni was removed from the card.
Shoaff’s previous three bouts Bare Knuckle FC came during the promotion’s first six cards, competing every other event. The first time that Shoaff toed the line was an epic battle against Diego Garijo. While the 31-year-old Shoaff may have come up short in that contest, the fight was so good that BKFC President David Feldman paired the two combatants up for a rematch at BKFC 4.
In another exciting war, the outcome would be different. Shoaf would see his hand raised after a fourth round victory due to the ringside physician calling an end to the contest.
In June 2019, Shoaf returned again in arguably the promotion’s biggest card to date, BKFC 6. Prior to Artem Lobov and Paulie Malignaggi putting on a show, Shoaf did battle against Lane. While he did not get the win, Shoaf continued to show fans that he is determined and dedicated to the sport of Bare Knuckle fighting.
Now, just a week out from the fight against Elmore, Shoaff talks about his opponent, the matchup, and what is to come.
“He knocked Will Chope out in the first round,” Shoaff said of Elmore’s most recent bare knuckle contest. “It wasn’t a good performance from either one of them in my opinion…. but opinions are like assholes. I’ve watched a lot of footage on him, my coach and I have watched his fights. He likes to come forward. He likes the pressure, he likes to throw heavy shots. He likes to stay in tight. We have been working on keeping all of those off the table. I know what he wants to do. I know how he likes to do it. He’s short, he’s stocky, he’s powerful. He wants to get in close and he wants to rip me apart. Not gonna let that happen. That’s all I really know about him and I feel I really don’t need to know much more. I’ve watched his footage, I’ve watched his fights, and I’m ready to get the W.”
While Shoaf will not trash talk his opponent, he does feel he has the tools necessary to get the job done on September 11.
“I’ve basically got two full fights in there, and he’s got 50 seconds,” Shoaff said while comparing their bare knuckle fighting experience. “Fighters fight. I can’t say that he won’t have the experience or the wherewithall when he gets in there. He’s been fighting for a long time. He has a lot of professional fights. And fighters fight. That’s what they do. As far as experience in the squared circle goes, yeah I’ve got him beat. But fight experience…. he might have me beat. What’s going to make the difference in this fight is me doing what I have been training to do, going out there and out-boxing him, taking him apart, cutting angles, piecing him up, landing combinations, and making him regret that he signed the dotted line. If I do that, like I’ve been training to do it, it will be a pretty easy night for me. But that’s a big ‘if.’ He’s a tough guy, and I know he’s training hard and doing a lot for this, so I’m not underestimating him in any shape or form. I am, however, extremely confident in my training and I believe I can finish him and any shape or form.
Aside from his never quit attitude and ability to put on exciting fights for the fans, Shoaff has become recognizable through the growth of an epic mustache. The facial hair masterpiece has been compared to that of bare knuckle legend John L. Sullivan.
Who wore it better?
You decide by taking a look at the BKFC Instagram post below
Was Sullivan an inspiration to growing that famed stache?
“Two parts. Yes, John L. Sullivan, was part of the inspiration,” Shoaff said. “But the main part, was my buddy Eddie Wineland, started the Mustache Mafia many moons ago. He started it back up again right around when I first got contracted for bare knuckle. He basically bullied me into it. He was like ‘look man, you are fighting bare knuckle, we train together, you have to join the Mafia. It’s like the law.’ So I did, and I haven’t regretted it. It’s been a conversation starter for sure. I feel like it gives me super powers, so it is going to stay around for a little bit.”
Shoaf recently moved to Oklahoma, changed training camps, and starting working with one of his original boxing coach once again, something he feels was a necessity.
“He, (Andy Pierce) is the one who taught me a large percentage of the striking that I have and that I use to this day,” Shoaff said. “I started working with him about 12 years ago and about 10 years ago I had to move back to the mid-west. I figure I don’t have much longer in this sport. I’m 31, so if I’m lucky, I’ve got 10 years at the top-end. So I wanted to finish my career with the guy that I started my career with.
“The training really hasn’t changed, but our ability to communicate has changed. I know so much more than I did 10 years ago and I have so much more experience and knowledge than I did 10 years ago and he’s grown and expanded in the 10 years that we’ve been apart. Our ability to express ideas or to communicate philosophy or training has expanded. No change in training. He still tries to murder me on a daily basis and I’m fortunate enough to survive it.”