Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Tommy ‘The Big’ Zbikowski has canceled his upcoming boxing bouts – two summer fixtures including a June 4 date on the undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s world title shot against WBC middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik – in favour of returning to training with his football team-mates at Baltimore Ravens. The safety claimed the experience of fighting for Top Rank promoter Bob Arum again was “tremendous”.
“It’s time to start the transition back to football,” Zbikowski explained to the Los Angeles Times via text messages. “My teammates are starting to organize some workouts, so it’s just time to head back (to Baltimore). Wish I had more time to do both.”
Tommy Z’s team-mates have organised workout sessions themselves and he stated his attendance “was myself showing [them] that I’m getting ready for this upcoming season. It’s going to be a big year for the Ravens and I need to be ready.
“It was a very tough decision for me,” lamented Zbikowski. “It was a tremendous experience fighting for Arum again. But as tough as it is to turn yourself into a fighter, it’s equally as tough to transition into an NFL player.”
Zbikowski (4-0-0, 3ko) despite his relative inexperience in professional boxing was beginning to develop a reputation as an intriguing prospect due to his crossover power. A two-sport athlete, Zbikowski’s most recent fight was an impressive first round knockout over Blake Warner (see embedded video below, credit Youtube, JFKConspiracy).
The American’s victory at the Red River Rumble event in the WinStar Casino, Thackerville, Oklahoma on April, 23 was clouded due to his testing positive of a marijuana substance; THC. Zbikowski, along with several other fighters at the event, were granted the opportunity to be subjected to a second testing and Zbikowski tested negative, indicating the first test was a “false positive”. The local boxing commission consequently over-ruled a ban that had previously been imposed upon Zbikowski.
Top Rank promoter Arum stated that the drug test had nothing to do with Zbikowski’s return to the gridiron.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Tom Zbikowski, a strong safety for the Baltimore Ravens who has boxed during the NFL lockout, was implicated in a drug ordeal as he – along with other boxers – tested positive for marijuana following his victory over Blake Warner at the WinStar Casino, Oklahoma on April 23, however, his 45-day ban was rescinded after an independent lab supplied a negative test.
The second test, conducted by a laboratory in Chicago, offset the initial test and Zbikowski responded by thanking both the Chickasaw Nation Boxing Commission for allowing the opportunity to provide a more conclusive test, together with his fans – both from the field and ringside – for their continued support.
“I just received official word that my boxing suspension has been lifted after producing a negative result from an independent lab,” Zbikowski stated to Boxing Scene. Tommy Z (4-0-0, 3ko) had been in line to serve a 45-day suspension which would may have had ramifications on his plans to take part in two more further fights against yet to be determined opponents in May and also in June.
“I am grateful to the Chickasaw Nation for acting in an expedited manner to clear my reputation,” added the 25-year-old who also expressed his relief that he was able to clear his name. “I was extremely concerned because perception is reality until you can prove otherwise.
“I was grateful the commission came forward and offered all the fighters who tested positive an opportunity to come back with a negative test. These types of strip tests can sometimes come back with false positives. Therefore we were able to submit a more comprehensive test administered by an independent certified lab.”
He continued: “I just want to thank all my fans for supporting me and I want to let them know that I would never jeopardise my boxing career nor my NFL career by putting illegal or banned substances into my body. I am also very much looking forward to getting back with my team-mates now that the lockout has been lifted.”
There were, all together, 16 fighters who underwent drug testing following the event at the WinStar Casino. Five, however, came back positive. Zbikowski’s manager, Mike Joyce, was always adamant that Zbikowski’s test had provided a false positive and that a second, more conclusive testing, would provide a negative.
He said, as reported by National Football Post: “The guys I know that smoke pot are all big fat guys that have the munchies. Tom doesn’t even eat pizza. He treats his body as a temple. He has passed hundreds of NFL and NCAA tests. He doesn’t do drugs.”
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.”
J.G Barrington – New York
There may have been few notable fights this weekend but the ones that did take place were not short of drama. On the undercard at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, USA there was an interruption during the Casey Ramos and John Jackson bout due to the latter’s weight snapping the upper middle rope. Francisco Leal, in the main event, shocked observers by sneaking a split decision win over favoured Roberto Marroquin.
(Embedded video above and far below credit – Youtube, Claviculatyson1)
Notes – Zbikowski secured his third knockout victory against an over-matched and overweight Warner. Having benefited from the tutelage of esteemed trainer Emanuel Steward, Zbikowski’s fistic artillery seems to have emphasis on the right and also the uppercut that ultimately felled Warner and prompted the referee to halt the fight. For scorecard and undercard summary click here.
Super Lightweight: Breidis Prescott – UD – Bryan Jargal [100-90, 99-91, 99-90]
Notes – The self-proclaimed Khanqueror defeated Jargal by way of a shut-out ten-round decision victory. Jargal did well to stand up to the heavy handedness that Prescott is most known for as the Colombian pushed back Jarga’s head with his right fist. By the fifth, Jargal’s face had begun to swell up but this did not deter him from coming forward. The only time Prescott eased up was in the final round as the win was already guaranteed. For full fight video, scorecard and round by round summary click here.
Featherweight: Francisco Leal – SD – Roberto Marroquin [99-92, 96-94, 93-97]
Notes – The month of upset victories continued to the penultimate weekend of April as Francisco Leal was awarded a split decision victory over the previously undefeated Marroquin. Top Rank promoted Marroquin was busy during the opening rounds yet succumbed to facial damage in the form of cuts and swelling by the time the fight had reached the ninth. The judges who scored in favour of Leal may well have preferred his counter-punching tactic over Marroquin’s ability to string together six-punch combinations.
IBO World Bantamweight title: Vic Darchinyan – 5th Rd TD – Yonnhy Perez
Notes – Darchinyan won third place in Showtime’s four-man bantamweight tournament due to a fifth round technical decision that arose from an accidental clash of heads. Darchinyan was aggressive from the opening bell, however. And, despite being the older man, looked a few leagues above Perez.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Two-sport athlete Tom Zbikowski, a safety for the Baltimore Ravens who boxes professionally during the NFL lockout, will be without head trainer Emanuel Steward for his fight on April 23 [result, scorecard and summary here] against Blake Warner at the WinStar Casino, Thackerville, USA. Cut-man Miguel Diaz will stand-in for Steward who will likely remain at the Kronk Gym training former world champion Chad Dawson.
Steward has been preparing Dawson for a fight against Adrian Diaconu on May 21. Dawson has not boxed since his technical decision loss (his first professional career defeat) to Jean Pascal. Should he trump Diaconu then he will face the winner of the rematch between Pascal and Bernard Hopkins, who box on the same evening.
Due to Steward’s obligations to ensure Dawson becomes a world champion once again, Zbikowski (3-0, 2ko) will not be hurt if he is unable to work his corner on Saturday evening against Warner. Diaz, who has worked with Zbikowski in all of his professional fights, will instead be head trainer on fight night.
“We got mixed up on some travel plans so I don’t even know if I want to make him [Steward] come all the way to Thackerville,” Tommy Z is quoted to have said by Boxing Scene. “I’ve got Miguel Diaz and R.W Brown who has been my personal trainer for football and boxing.
“Miguel’s been there,” added the 25-year-old. “He will be in his third fight with me. Emanuel’s got a busy schedule. He’s got championship fighters. I wasn’t going to be hurt that he wasn’t going to make this fight. Emanuel knows that I’m going to take care of business.”
Zbikowski, despite being more known for his football career, amassed an impressive 75-15 amateur boxing record.
His first pro fight was in 2006, a 49 second knockout win over Robert Bell, on the same card as Miguel Cotto’s victory over Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden, New York. Zbikowski aimed to focus on his NFL career and took a break from boxing but returned to the ring earlier in the year, against Richard Bryant, but again triumphed in a first round knockout. A tough decision win over Caleb Grummet followed the Bryant victory.
“Z” has two more scheduled bouts after the Warner fight, on May 21 at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, California and then on June 4, on the undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s world title challenge against Sebastian Zbik at the Staples Center, Los Angeles.