All Pictures: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
The undercard fights at the WinStar Casino, Thackerville were dubbed a ‘loco night in Oklahoma‘ due to the barmy bout between John Jackson and Casey Ramos where Jackson was dropped, but ended up ‘hanging over the upper-middle rope like wet washing’, as Denzil Stone wrote in his post-fight report. OTB photographer Stacey Verbeek was on-site to snap Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski‘s action behind the scenes and in the ring.
Zbikowski’s swift win over Blake Warner ensured he rose to 4-0-0 with 3 knockout victories. He has two scheduled fights coming up, with yet to be determined opponents, at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, Cabazon, Cali on May 21 and the Staples Centre, LA on June 4.
April has been the month of shocks. None more so than Nobuhiro Ishida’s stunning 1st round knockout over James Kirkland. However, Frankie Leal continued to upset the odds as he scored a decision over pre-fight favourite and formerly undefeated featherweight Roberto Marroquin.
Zbikowski entered the ring looking to be in far greater shape than Warner. The keys to Tommy Z’s victory were his tempo-setting jab, patience, landing his solid right uppercut before taking the wind out of Warner’s lungs with a series of punishing body shots before returning with the finishing right uppercut.
Warner attempted to assert himself following the body attack by utilising his jab and a number of one-two’s. Zbikowski, though, dropped Warner with the right. Referee Vic Drakulich needed no hesitation to halt the fight after only two minutes and twenty seconds.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Tom ‘The Big’ Zbikowski‘s performance against Shane Warner on Saturday, April 23 at the WinStar Casino, Thackerville, Oklahoma, was so meritorious that it belied his inexperienced record heading into the ring. The cultured cruiserweight defeated an over-matched Warner in an astute manner and explained that his keys to victory were his signature punch – the body shot – as well as his jab; a tempo controller.
On The Beak dubbed the undercard fights a ‘Loco night at Oklahoma‘ due to Zbikowski’s dominant 1st round knockout victory together with an unprecedented bout between two super featherweights – Casey Ramos and John Jackson – that saw the upper-middle rope snap following a heavy knockdown inflicted unto ‘Action’ Jackson. Both fights are scored and detailed here.
Zbikowski (4-0, 3ko) returned to his growing reputation as a hard-hitting kayo-hungry headhunter as, for the third time in his fledgling career, he stopped his opponent inside the opening stanza. This, after he was taken the four round distance by Caleb Grummet last month in Atlantic City.
Against Warner, Zbikowski explained that he was able to dictate the dust-up due to his reliance on his jab, as well as his attacking intuition. He told Boxing Scene: “I came out with some pretty decent jabs. I wanted to make sure that I gave him respect and felt him out. I didn’t want to just bum-rush him. I wanted to throw some calculated punches and to fight the way that I needed to fight. I wanted to fight a smart fight.
“I feel like I used my jab a lot more,” added Tommy Z. “I think that I used my jab the whole time. I used it the way that it should be used, you know, just to set the tempo. I kept him off of me.
The video embedded above (credit – Youtube, Box Azteca, Chitoxdxd) shows the entire first round. Zbikowski showed good discipline and patience in waiting for his openings. He had a good posture, feinted with his shoulder, had good foot movement, a solid jab and it was the punishing and relentless body blows – inflicted with his left – that paved the way for the finishing uppercut.
“[The jab] opened up my left hook to the body because I got him thinking down the middle. And, you know, that’s my best punch. I landed four or five times to that left side and once more to the right. Then I stepped back and reviewed it a little bit [but] I was able to finish him off with a right uppercut.
“I had stunned him earlier with a right uppercut and he sort of went backward,” noted Zbikowski. “From there I kind of slow played it just because it would have been an awkward angle for any punch. I just didn’t see an opening at that point so I kind of just allowed him to reset.”
Zbikowski has attracted a multitude of column inches as, unlike other boxing prospects, he is a two-sport athlete. Having made his boxing debut while playing college football for Notre Dame, Zbikowski took a break from the sweet science to focus on football and was drafted in 2008 for the Baltimore Ravens where he is fielded as a safety. He returned to the ring earlier this year, during the NFL lockout, and his fan-base has transcended multiple states.
“Even though I fought in Oklahoma City I saw a lot of Notre Dame jerseys in the crowd and some Baltimore Ravens jerseys as well,” said Z. “It was good. My family always comes so in a room of 2,000 I’m still going to hear them. They were making noise.”