Eric “Butterbean” Esch Was More Than an Entertainer
By Ken Hissner, Dog House Boxing (Sept 15, 2015)
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Prior to boxing Esch won five Tough Man Titles and was 47-5 (36) per bio in www.boxrec.com under manager Art Dore and trainer Murray Sutherland. “I had over 70 fights”, said Esch. He held the Elite 1 MMA title. Turning professional Bob Arum of Top Rank took over as his promoter. “Butterbean was a very popular attraction on major boxing events for Top Rank. He had some awesome fire power as well. He was a colorful character who fought with confidence, went for the win and was always fan-friendly,” said Lee Samuels (Top Rank publicist).
One of his characteristics was his weight. Early in his career his low was 295 compared to his final bout of his career at a whopping 426½! He wore trunks with red, white and blue stripes and had a great outgoing personality.
At one point in the career of Esch he had a 63-1-3 record before losing his second bout in August of 2001 to Billy Zumbrun, 5-3-1, by majority decision in Utah. “He ran the entire time,” said Esch. He claims he would later reverse that loss with a knockout (not on boxrec). Then he won two fights and was matched with former world champion Larry “Easton Assassin” Holmes, 68-6, in Norfolk, VA, in a 10 round bout. “Holmes had respect. I just wish he was not so afraid of getting hit. He ran the whole time. Guess that was respect for my power right there,” said Esch. This writer questioned Holmes for making a 4 round fighter go 10 rounds hoping you would tire badly enough he would take advantage. It was Holmes in the 10th and final round that hit the canvas! “I would have ko’d him if it would have been a 12 rounder,” said Esch.
One of Esch’s major bouts was against Mike Tyson challenger Peter McNeeley, 45-4 in June of 1999. Esch won by technical knockout at 2:59 of the first round. Speaking of Tyson I asked being “King of the 4 rounder’s” how close did you get to fighting “Iron Mike?” He said, there was some talk but they would never think about doing a 4 rounder.” In his previous fight he defeated Russell “Sandman” Chasteen, 8-0!”
Esch fought Kenny Craven 4 times winning twice. “One fight took place in Beijing, China in 2005. Craven simply outworked Butterbean. Craven won 3 out of 4 rounds on my score card. Outside the ring Butterbean was a sensation in China. The people love him. He and his wife spent hours signing autographs and posing for photos,” said Steve “double SS” Smoger (IBHOF referee).
There were quite a few boxers he fought more than once besides Craven. He stopped Doug Norris twice. He drew and knocked out Billy Eaton. He stopped Jason Farley and drew with him. He stopped Dan Kosmicki twice. He defeated Harry Funmaker twice by decision and lost a split decision near the end of his career. He defeated Kevin Tallon 3 times, once by stoppage. He stopped Curt Allan, Ed White and Ken Woods twice each. He split in 2 fights with George Linberger stopping him in 2000 and losing a split decision in 2005. “The first time I fought Butterbean I found him to be a hard hitter and a very strong fighter. The next time I knew I had to move and box him which I did and was able to win the fight,” said Linberger. Since retiring he is founder and president of six alternative schools for children with emotional behavior and learning disabilities throughout Ohio that he owns and operates. Butterbean said “he ran and jabbed for that is all he could do. The ref even got on him about it,” said Butterbean.
Esch won his first 15 fights including stopping Louis Monaco who would later defeat Michael Dokes. In Esch’s next fight he was stopped by Mitchell Rose. His second and third fights were for 6 rounds. In what www.boxrec.com claims his lone 8 round bout he stopped Tyrone Muex. “I never had an 8 round bout,” said Esch. He stopped and defeated Tim Ray. In 2005 he lost 3 straight. He lost his last 3 bouts with one by split decision and in his last bout complaining about a shoulder complaint stopping the bout in the 2nd round. It was only the second time he was stopped in his 91 bouts. He was 46 years old. “I tore my rotator cuff in that fight,” said Esch.
Esch had a fine career and most opponents made light of him due to his size until they stepped in the ring with him and found it wasn’t some side show but someone who could bang! In 1995 he was 13-1. In 1997 he was 11-0-1. In 1998 at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia Esch was the main event winner knocking out Tim Pollard, 6-4-2. Then in 1999 he was 12-0-1. He started to slow down in 2001 going 3-1. Over 2001, 02 and 03 he was 5-2-1. In 2004 he went 6-0.
In asking what was Esch’s toughest fight was he said “MMA because of the elements.” He was born in Atlanta, GA, in August of 1966 and still resides in Jasper, Alabama, at the age of 49. Esch was an entertaining boxer and always an attraction wherever he fought! I never saw him in a bad televised fight. For those who never saw him go to www.youtube.com and you will be in for a treat! There was only one “Butterbean”!
Please send all questions and comments to Ken Hissner at: Kenhissner@gmail.com
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