Zbikowski Destroys Bell: Does "Tommy Z" Have a Future In Boxing?

12.06.06 - By Jeff Bastasini: Notre Dame football player, Tommy Zbikowski, taking part in his first professional fight, made short work of his opponent, Robert Bell, 32, stopping him in 49 seconds of the first round on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. Tommy Zbikowski, a 21-year-old 3rd team All-American Safety with the Notre Dame football team, was permitted to fight due to NCCAA rules, which state that a player can receive money (in Zbikowski's case, $ 25,000) but not receive endorsements.. At 5'11" 215 lb, Zbikowski (1-0, 1 KO) appeared somewhat small for a heavyweight, yet his hand speed more than made up for his lack of size, as he quickly pounced on his larger opponent at the start of the fight and immediately landed a lead right to the head of Bell (2-3), which snapped his head back.

Bell tried to answer with a right of his own but missed the mark when Zbikowski bounced out of range. Seconds later, Zbikowski landed a left hook to Bell's midsection and followed it with a big left hook to the head which badly hurt Bell, sending him backwards. Zbikowski then followed with a big hand to the head and then a quick double left hook to Bell's head, causing him to go down to one knee. Once Bell was up on his feet again, Zibikowski calmly walked up to him and landed lead right hand to Bell's head, the impact causing Bell to twist all away around from the punch. At that point, the referee, Arthur Mercante Jr., stepped in and called a halt to the bout at 49 seconds of the first round rather than letting Bell sustain further punishment.

For me, it wasn't so much the spectacle of Zbikowski of being a college football player making his first fight, but rather his technical fight skills that had me impressed. Zbikowski, although a fighter with very little boxing experience other than an amateur boxing career with a record of 75-15, he has an offense arsenal of punches almost like a fighter much smaller and highly skilled. For instance, the double left hooks that he landed against Bell, they were thrown so perfectly almost like something thrown by an accomplished lightweight, like Miguel Cotto or Ricky Hatton. Personally, I can't remember seeing a heavyweight throw hooks like that. Then again, Zbikowski is reported to be a student of boxing and has studied the fighting styles of the great boxers such as Tyson and De La Hoya. Zbikowski is like a sponge for knowledge and uses what he has learned in the ring.

At 5'11", Zbikowski would be somewhat small for a heavyweight, and might be better off losing weight to fight in the Cruiserweight division. I think his hand speed and ring movement make up for his lack of size, since he seems very quick on his feet and stays on the outside until he makes his lightening like attacks. With the kind hand speed he has, I think he could immediately compete at the highest levels of the heavyweight division. He still has a lot to learn, though, but based on his skills I think he would be a serious threat for most of the top heavyweights if he were to pursue a career in boxing that is.

Sadly, for boxing fans, Zbikowski may have fought his last fight as he still has one more year of College football awaiting him and following that he will be drafted into the NFL where he is predicted to be anywhere from a 1st round to 2nd round draft choice. As a hard hitting safety, Zbikowski has been compared to Ronnie Lott in his hitting ability and he would likely receive a multi-million dollar contract to play football and, thus, it would finish him as far as boxing is concerned. Nevertheless, considering the violent nature of football, where a player’s career can be over in a wink of an eye, we may be seeing Zbikowski again sooner than we think.

Article posted on 13.06.2006

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