Zbikowski's side job as pro boxer must be a punch in the gut for Ravens' Harbaugh

March 27, 2011|By Kevin Cowherd

The legend of Tommy Z, Baltimore's real-life Rocky, continues to grow.

Tommy Z, of course, is the boxing name for Tom Zbikowski, who happens to have another job as a safety for the Ravens.

But seeing as how there's a lockout on and he's technically not under contract with the team anyway, Tommy Z decided he didn't want to sit around all day watching videos and slamming pizza and getting fat and lazy.

So he went back to his first love, which involves punching the daylights out of another person in the ring and possibly getting his own face rearranged in the process.

Tell me something: Could the guy possibly be involved in anything more dangerous than pro football and boxing?

What's next for Tommy Z, alligator wrestling?

Cliff diving?

Juggling chainsaws?

Sure, we all know he's the ultimate tough guy. But after another grueling NFL season of colliding with wide receivers and getting steamrollered by running backs, couldn't he find a nice beach in the Caribbean and suck down a few fruity drinks and just chill?

Apparently not.

So there was Tommy Z again Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J., winning a unanimous decision in a tough four-round heavyweight bout against someone named Caleb "True Grit" Grummet.

Grummet was supposed to be another tomato can, like the two earlier opponents Tommy Z dispatched to la-la land in a total of 2 minutes, 34 seconds.

Instead, it sounds as though "True Grit" gave Tommy Z all he could handle.

From all reports, Grummet's face looked like a bloody piece of filet mignon when it was aover.

But Tommy Z, who at 195 pounds gave up 20 pounds to Grummet, got tagged a few times himself. And he was said to be visibly exhausted when he left the ring.

He also sounded majorly ticked that he didn't knock out Grummet.

Did we mention that Grummet is a former mixed martial arts champ? We should probably mention that.

Not that this little fact escaped Tommy Z, who has plenty of respect for anyone who fights in a cage. He knew Grummet wasn't going to start crying for his mommy the first time he got rocked.

"I know I wobbled him," Tommy Z told reporters after the fight. "But I give him all the credit. He's a tough, tough dude."

In any event, with the win over Grummet, Tommy Z's professional boxing record stands at 3-0.

And he's so into it that he wants to continue to fight even when this stupid lockout is over and he goes back to playing for the Ravens.

In fact, Tommy Z says he has his sights set on becoming cruiserweight champion, something that probably has Ravens coach John Harbaugh banging his head against a wall.

Despite all the bad things that can happen to a boxer in the ring — let's start with cuts and bruises and work our way up to, oh, concussions and kidney damage and death — there's really nothing the Ravens can do about Tommy Z's little side job right now.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, in fact, has labeled Tommy Z's boxing career as "awesome." Bisciotti even said he wouldn't mind walking his player into the ring at one of his fights, if it weren't for that pesky lockout rule that prohibits team officials and players from communicating.

But you can bet Harbaugh isn't quite as thrilled with his safety's new pastime.

If I were Harbaugh, I wouldn't be thrilled, either. There's a reason you don't see anyone else boxing and playing in the NFL at the same time. And that reason has to do with the cuts, bruises, concussions, etc., we discussed a few moments earlier.

But for now, because he hasn't signed his Ravens offer as a restricted free agent, Tommy Z can do pretty much whatever he wants as a boxer.

And what he wants to do is train with the great Emanuel Steward, who has worked with the likes of Thomas Hearns and Lennox Lewis and knows a little something about the fight game.

I couldn't reach Tommy Z on Sunday to see how he was feeling after his latest fight.

But I talked to him on a radio show a few days ago, and he said he has "a couple" of more fights lined up with legendary promoter Bob Arum.

It didn't sound as if Tommy Z would be chilling in the Caribbean anytime soon.

But if he keeps fighting much longer, it might be Harbaugh who needs the smelling salts.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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