Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch: “I come to fight”
INTERVIEW By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (February 17, 2006)
He may not look like your average boxer, forget the jab, the counter punching or pugilistic style that the sweet science may offer, this brawling big guy knows only one speed: straight up in your face, letting the fists fly and what may go down will go down. Yep, he is the three hundred and eighty-five pound bald headed cult favorite known as Butterbean, 71-7-4 (54), and whether you take him seriously or not as a boxer you can’t deny his ability to bring down the house and on many occasions, his opponents.
© Rebecca Breyer
After smashing out many fights as a tough man contestant Eric Esch, better known as ‘Butterbean’, began his journey in the professional side of boxing. Twelve years, eighty-four bouts, eighteen first round knockouts later and the ‘Bean is sill going strong with the blue-collar boxing fan. From movies, video games and countless appearances, Esch has made good with his career. Traveling around the world as the ‘King of the Four Rounders’, Esch has been entertaining fans endlessly with fights against Peter McNeeley (TKO1), Larry Holmes (UD loss) and three bouts against tough journeyman Kenny Craven.
Now the thirty-eight year old Alabamian has stepped in the world of the Mixed Martial Arts and looks to continue putting on shows around the world. Esch has taken a novelty and made a comfortable living and while he may not be the most talented fighter in the history of boxing, he is certainly one of its more colorful characters.
The Bean took time out to speak to the Doghouse and gives his thoughts on his career as well as future, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Eric, first off I would like to say thank you for taking the time out to speak to the Doghouse, can you tell the readers some of the recent events you have been involved in lately?
Eric Esch: My last fight was in Hawaii and it was called Rumble at the Rock, it was a cage fight, I fought one of the top MMA guys named Cabbage, I stopped him at the end of the second round.
BH: What prompted you to climb into the cage?
EE: There is a fighter that I know named Mark Coleman and I mentioned it to him that I would like to fight in the cage and he made some calls and I got a lot of response with a lot of people wanting to manage me and get me to fight on their cards and it went from there.
BH: Before we get into anymore of the questioning being totally honest could you have ever imagined being where you are today in the fight scene?
EE: I don’t think nobody could, I mean I started in tough man and won eighteen different championships in that and then I turned pro.
BH: What was it about Butterbean that captured the public eye?
EE: I think because I come to fight, I don’t have a win or lose attitude, I go in there to win of course but I give it everything I’ve got. I don’t try to win by playing a chess game, or by running from the person, I go in there to fight. Boxing and MMA and K-1 that is what they want to see, they don’t want to see guys try to hit move and run and win on points, they don’t want to see that. They want to see two guys go in there and give it everything they’ve got. Like Gatti-Ward, nobody lost in that fight, of course somebody got the decision but it wasn’t like either was really a loser, the fight was worth watching, and that is what I do, I go out there and try to make every fight exciting to watch.
BH: You know you are known for being the bald headed big guy, entertaining to a lot of people to see a large framed man get into the ring and thump heads, so do you feel you would have gotten the same response from the boxing world if you would have weighted under three hundred, and have you ever considered about dropping the pounds and fighting under three hundred, do you feel you would have had the same success?
EE: You know it’s not a matter of how big you are I think a lot of people want to see big guys in there, and I look at myself as an exciting fighter to watch. You won’t find many people over three hundred pounds to be able to do what I do, I gave gone ten rounds with Larry Holmes, there are bigger names coming up that I really can’t say yet but hopefully in there near future we have one of them pretty much pegged in.
BH: What about training, what daily regime have you adopted?
EE: I train hard, a lot of people don’t realize if you go wide open one hundred percent for four rounds that is as hard as a ten round fight. If you can go a hard four rounds you can go ten rounds without a problem. I do my cardio in the morning and my bag work and sparring in the evenings.
BH: Some would say that you are a novelty, a cult favorite of sort and not take you serious as fighter, what are your thoughts on that matter?
EE: You know Larry Holmes was saying that until after the fifth or sixth round and when I finally put Holmes down on the matt in the tenth round he wasn’t thinking that anymore. Because I am exciting to watch does that make me an act, because I go out here and I fight every fight to make it fun to watch, instead of jabbing and running I bring the fight to the person, I go out there to fight and make sure that people have a good time. I don’t look at it as an act, entertainment yeah but you have any fight, football game, hockey, they come to watch to be entertained, it is entertainment. The critics whole say that I am just an entertainer, what’s so bad about that? Call it what you want.
BH: How were you approached to be in the movie Jackass?
EE: Actually they called one of my restaurants and asked me if I would be interested and I said sure, they worked around my schedule.
BH: What is your top three most unforgettable moments through out your career?
EE: Oh wow, there has been a lot of them the Larry Holmes fight is pretty unforgettable, especially when I dropped him in the tenth round. I fought a guy named Monaco and knocked him out pretty quick, when I fought McNeeley, because McNeeley ran his mouth like there was no tomorrow and it was such an easy fight. That is a couple of things that Tyson has in common with me, McNeeley is one of them, and Monaco because Monaco knocked out Kevin McBride who beat Tyson, and Monaco was an easy fight for me. Tough but I made it easy.
BH: With the time that you have left in the fighting business is there any particular fighter that you would like to get in the ring with and go toe to toe with for four rounds?
EE: I have always wanted to fight Tyson and I still do. There has been a lot of talk about it but who knows if it will ever happen. I think people would pay to see the fight and that is the most important part. There are others fights that may happen but Tyson is the one I really want.
BH: When it is all said and done what do you want the fight world to say about the Bean?
EE: The people that I like and the ones who come to watch me fight they respect me and they had a good time, in the end I want people to say that they enjoyed watching me fight, that they say that I came here to fight, that is the best compliment to me that you could say. I am hoping that people enjoyed watching me fight and had a good time.
BH: What do you do when you aren’t fighting and such?
EE: I am really never out of the fight world, I am doing appearances, and I’m at a lot of different fights. Between now and the end of March I will be fighting four times. So I stay busy and it is kind of hard to do anything else.
BH: Your thoughts on stepping in the ring with living legend Larry Holmes.
EE: Out of all the fighters I have fought Holmes is probably the only one I never liked, I normally won’t fight somebody if I don’t like them. People think I’m crazy but if I don’t like them I won’t fight them. Why should I fight somebody and they are making money by fighting me? Why should I help somebody make nose that I don’t like, you hit somebody in the nose it will hurt them for a couple of days but if you take money out of their pocket it is going to hurt them a lot worse.
BH: How would you describe your career?
EE: It’s not been bad, I have had a good career and it isn’t over yet so I really can’t describe it.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to or say in closing of this interview?
EE: I have had a good time with what I have done and there are two many fighters are not having fun doing what they are doing. Some realize that they are having a good time; them are the ones who are successful. The ones that just think everybody owes them something them are the ones who leave a bad taste in my mouth.
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