Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski says he wants to box in Baltimore

March 28, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Tom Zbikowski sported white trunks with purple trim at his most recent fight, an obvious nod to the Ravens. His ring entrance music came from a local rapper.

Zbikowski certainly brought Baltimore to Atlantic City, N.J., where he won a hard-fought unanimous decision over Caleb Grummet on Saturday night.

So, when will the Ravens safety bring one of his professional boxing matches to Baltimore?

"I'm trying to," Zbikowski said after he improved his record to 3-0. "I'll do whatever I can to get a fight there."

The odds of Zbikowski's fighting in Baltimore this year aren't great, according to his promoter, Bob Arum, the founder of Top Rank boxing.

Because Zbikowski announced his decision to box so late, Arum has been adding the 195-pound cruiserweight to existing shows. He has already boxed in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and is scheduled to fight at the end of April in the Dallas area.

Asked about the chances of putting a fight together for Zbikowski in Baltimore, Arum said: "I won't rule it out. Like everyone, I hope everything gets settled and there is [an NFL] season. If there isn't a season, then we can plan to do a fight in Baltimore. Right now, it's week to week."

Arum said the best chance of organizing a bout in Baltimore is next offseason. That is, if Zbikowski can persuade an NFL team to let him box in the offseason or he signs a one-year contract right before the start of training camp (which would allow him to fight from March through mid-July).

Zbikowski, who has played all three of his NFL seasons with the Ravens, seems committed to boxing in Baltimore.

"If we can get that worked out, I can play at M&T Bank Stadium in the season and fight at M&T Bank Stadium in the offseason," he said before Saturday's fight.

Zbikowski has created a buzz in the boxing world in just two fights this year. A Top Rank boxing official said Saturday night's event — headlined by the Yuriorkis Gamboa-Jorge Solis featherweight title fight — hadn't sold out the 3,000-seat Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City a couple of weeks ago. But the last 500 seats were bought when Zbikowski was added to the card.

Although Zbikowski has generated attention for the sport, boxing observers don't consider him a novelty act. He has displayed quick hands and has been described as a heavy hitter.

"We knew he had ability and he is a first-class athlete," Arum said. "We didn't know he was going to be this dedicated."

It'll be interesting to see how Zbikowski responds from his toughest bout yet. After knocking out his first two pro opponents in the first round, Zbikowski had to go the distance in the four-round fight Saturday.

He decisively won the first two rounds by landing more punches, but he clearly lost the final one. After taking an uppercut with 1:37 left in the match, a visibly stunned Zbikowski stayed away from the bigger Grummet to run out the clock.

"Thank goodness it wasn't a six-round fight," Zbikowski's new trainer, Emanuel Steward, told ESPN.

Zbikowski said he will become a better boxer because of this unexpected test.

"You can't always throw punches trying to knock a guy out," Zbikowski said. "It drains you, and it shows. Once again, it's a learning experience."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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