Zbikowski wins by unanimous decision

Ravens safety lands jarring uppercut in third round, will fight again April 23

  • Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski connects on an uppercut to Caleb Grummet in the third round.
Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski connects on an uppercut to Caleb… (Reuters photo )
March 26, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — — Tom Zbikowski didn't record the expected knockout, but the Ravens safety showed something he had already proved on the football field — his toughness.

Zbikowski delivered several brutal punches and absorbed some as well, standing his ground for a unanimous win over a bloodied-face Caleb "True Grit" Grummet at a sold-out Boardwalk Hall Saturday night.

In a bout billed as "MMA vs. NFL," the man known as "Tommy Z" in boxing improved to 3-0 in his professional career after all three judges scored in his favor (39-36, 39-36 and 38-37). Still, going all four rounds against Grummet (0-1-1) surprised the boisterous crowd of 3,000 and left Zbikowski exhausted leaving the ring.

"I'm very, very critical of myself," Zbikowski said. "Obviously, you want knockouts. Overall experience is what you need. You're not always going to get knockouts."

Zbikowski had made quick work of his first two opponents, recording two knockouts in a pro career that spanned 2 minutes, 34 seconds. Saturday's fight against Grummet — a former cage fighter who weighed 215 pounds (which officially made the bout a heavyweight one) — gave the 195-pound Zbikowski his toughest one yet.

Two weeks since his last boxing match, Zbikowski displayed quick hands and strength by landing crushing shots on Grummet for three rounds. It left Grummet with a bloody nose and a cut above the left eye. Then, Zbikowski took a hard uppercut with 1:37 left in the final round and held on for the convincing victory.

In football terms, this wasn't like going against the Denver Broncos.

"He's a big man," Zbikowski said. "Obviously, he can take the punches. My punches had effect but not like it would if the guy had 20 less pounds on him."

Despite losing, Grummet felt like he accomplished his goal.

"I didn't come here to win the fight; I just came to fight," Grummet said. "Not bad for training with four kids at home by my side."

Zbikowski's decision to go from the lockout to boxing has created a buzz about an eventual title. In the stands, there were fans wearing jerseys for the Ravens and Notre Dame who started chanting "Tommy" near the end of the fight.

Instead of witnessing an easy win, they saw Zbikowski's first learning experience in boxing.

"He got hit real hard," said legendary trainer Emanuel Steward, who was in Zbikowski's corner for the first time. "He's beginning to learn what it's all about. People think boxing is easy, but it's not. I want him to come with me for personal boxing training."

Zbikowski was winded near the end of the fight but was never worried.

"I knew I was going to do whatever I had to do to win," he said.

Zbikowski set the tone early and had his best showing in the third round. After a second low blow got a point deducted from Grummet, Zbikowski countered with five solid shots on Grummet, including a right uppercut with about 30 seconds left that started the cage fighter's nose to bleed.

"I know I wobbled him," Zbikowski said. "But I give him all the credit. He's a tough, tough dude."

In fact, Zbikowski was the one who needed toughness to finish the bout. He had to fight his way off the ropes a couple of times and then took an uppercut that seemed to stun him.

Zbikowski fought defensively for the remaining seconds to leave with the win.

"It wasn't that big of a deal," Zbikowski said of the shot. "Obviously, it looks a little worse when you're tired. You don't want to sit and absorb those punches. Being light on your feet always helps out."

Zbikowski is now scheduled to fight in an Indian Casino outside the Dallas area, according to an official with Top Rank Boxing. There is a possibility that Zbikowski could be added to a card in early June that could take place at Dodger Stadium or the Staples Center.

He's also been asked by Roy Jones to spar with him in Pensacola, Fla., to help him train for an upcoming fight.

"I'm still very [young] in my boxing career," Zbikowski said. "Getting those rounds in and getting that experience is going to make me that much better."



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