Add 'Butterbean' to list of boxing's MMA converts
Eric "Butterbean" Esch, the former novelty boxing act known as the king of the four-rounders, was one of the original boxers who converted to mixed martial arts fighting.
"A lot of boxers don't realize it when they first get involved, but MMA is a true sport," Esch said. "You don't know how to sprawl or defend against the things you'll see in there, you'll lose. You'll get embarrassed."
Esch's words should be kept in mind as former champion boxers Ricardo Mayorga and James Toney launch their MMA careers. Mayorga will fight former UFC fighter Din Thomas in a card this weekend, and Toney has an August fight at UFC 118 versus former champion Randy Couture.
"Butterbean" is not only fighting Boston radio personality and former Boston Bruins player Lyndon Byers on May 21, he's also co-promoting the "Moosin: God of Martial Arts" show at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. The pay-per-view main event will feature former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia versus five-time "World's Strongest Man" competitor Mariusz Pudzianowski.
Pudzianowski is 2-0 in MMA and just fought earlier this month.
"I used to fight three-four times in a month," Esch said. "Mariusz is proud that he's been the strongest man in the world five times, and he's taken this fight seriously. This'll be a tough fight for Tim."
Esch said he's fighting Boston's popular Byers to contribute a portion of the revenue to the family of a police officer killed in the line of duty.
"That fight will be just for the live audience," Esch said. "I don't know how good L.B. is, he's a big tough guy, former hockey player."
Esch's interest in MMA is serious enough that his two sons, Brandon, 24, and Caleb, 21, are involved in fighting, and the promoter said he nearly signed Toney to "Moosin" before UFC stepped in.
"We had Toney committed to our card, but the UFC flew him to Las Vegas the day before he was to sign with us and they locked him up," Esch said. "Believe me, they're not doing any favors throwing him in there against Couture. Couture won't stand up with Toney, he'll just jerk him down and beat the snot out of him.
"That's not a good fight. To make good fights, you need a stand-up guy against a stand-up guy, or a take-down guy against a take-down guy."
Esch said he originally found MMA after a discussion with former UFC champion Mark Coleman. "Butterbean" first fought in the kickboxing organization K-1, and said he learned to charge at his foe rather than risk taking painful leg kicks.
"A lot of boxers have tried it and not had success," Esch said. "It's important to know the differences, otherwise you look like Michael Jordan trying to play baseball."
-- Lance Pugmire