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Boxer Tommy Zbikowski is off June 4 Staples Center card to return to NFL

May 24, 2011 | 10:15 am

Photo: Tommy Zbikowski, right, connects with a punch to Caleb Grummet on March 26. Credit: Tim Shaffer / Reuters Baltimore Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski was 3-0 in his return to professional boxing this spring, but his novel pursuit of the sweet science has been halted by his desire to play in a Super Bowl, despite the NFL's lockout of players.

Zbikowski (4-0, 3 KOs) has withdrawn from his scheduled June 4 undercard fight versus cruiserweight Mike Howell at Staples Center, saying the tug of football is too great to resist.

"It was time to start the transition back to football," Zbikowski told the Los Angeles Times in 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."

The June 4 Staples card on HBO will feature a main event pitting Germany's world middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik and Mexico's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Zbikowski, a charismatic 26-year-old product of Notre Dame, last fought April 23 in Oklahoma, scoring a first-round technical knockout of Blake Warner in a casino there. The victory was clouded when Zbikowski tested positive for the marijuana substance THC, but days later he  produced a clean result, which the local boxing commission approved to immediately lift his suspension.

Zbikowski promoter Bob Arum said the fighter's return to NFL training had nothing to do with the prior drug test, which Arum previously dismissed as a "contact high."

Zbikowski said he merely wanted to be fully committed to a team -- and defensive unit -- that had advanced to the AFC Divisional Round three consecutive seasons.

ON ESPN, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said this week his team was "minutes" from a return to the Super Bowl. 

Zbikowski said his decision to join his teammates at players' organized workout sessions "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. It was a tremendous experience fighting for Arum again," he said. But "as tough as it is to turn yourself into a fighter, it's equally as tough to transition into an NFL player."

ALSO:

Bernard Hopkins is world champion at 46

Oscar De La Hoya reportedly in rehabilitation facility

-- Lance Pugmire    

Photo: Tommy Zbikowski, right, connects with a punch to Caleb Grummet on March 26. Credit: Tim Shaffer / Reuters

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