You are right that bareknuckle boxing had many differences in technique to take into account not having gloves, but punching with the top two knuckles in not one of them. I think you've misinterpreted that Sullivan video. The way that the bareknuckle boxers punched, they turned their hands over the opposite way from what gloved fighters do, with the palm facing 45 degrees upwards, only because they have to punch because it makes it easier to punch with bottom three knuckles and the flat services of the fingers which makes a square surface, which makes it less susceptable to breakage when not wearing gloves.
Don't misinterpret the bareknuckle style of punching for punching with the top two knuckles! Punching with the top two knuckles means that the punch is now off center from the wrist and the rest of the arm, or the "power line" as dempsey calls it. Its pretty much impossible to have power this way. Its also dangerous because the top two knuckles are further apart from each other and are more prone to "splitting". Punching with just the middle knuckle, well that knuckle is on its own and without the other knuckles to back it up, since it sticks out more and it will be the only knuckle that makes contact, hand injuries occur. Punching while aiming with the ring finger means that the ring knuckle is reinforced by the adjacent two knuckles, the force is more spread over a larger surface, easying the strain on your hands. The key is not really to "hit" with the knuckles per se, but to hit with the flat surface that the knuckes and the surface of the fist.
I have great respect for the punching abilities of Sullivan, Fitzsimmons, and all the oldtimers, they can teach some of the modern fighters a thing or two about punching technique, including how to punch with the bottom three knuckles!
And the OP was asking about the "power line" in Dempsey's book, which renders any talk about which knuckles the bareknuckles fighters used irrelevant anyways. You might have your own reasons for punching with the top two knuckles but please don't be giving this advice to others, since it runs counter to any knowlegeable boxing coach! Not to mention that its obvious you lack any practical experience in the matter. I would love for you to tell Freddie Roach and Manny Steward the arguement that you have made in this thread.
Last edited by mrchallenge; 06-02-2012 at 08:07 PM.