By Lem Satterfield
Baltimore Ravens' safety Tom Zbikowski, who has scored three decisions that included two knockouts as a professional heavyweight boxer while the NFL owners and players association are locked out in talks to sign a new collective bargaining agreement, has pulled out of a June 4 bout in order to begin informal football workouts with teammates in anticipation of a potential end to the work stopapge, Zbikowski told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday.
"Just seeing when that lockout was lifted, even just for the day, a sort of panic set in that you know, if we were ready to start back, that I would not be ready for a 16-game season," said the 6-foot-tall Zbikowski, who still was a junior defensive back at Notre in June of 2006 when he debuted as a professional fighter with a 49-second knockout of Robert Bell at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"I just think that knowing that it's about to be June, if I fight on June 4, I would need another two months to get ready for football, and I would be looking at August 4" for training camp," said Zbikowski. "I have a strong loyalty to the Baltimore Ravens and to my teammates, which the Ravens are, so I'm not in a position where I can put myself first in my career and to be that selfish to the Baltimore Ravens just because I have the passion and the love for another sport."
Promoted by Top Rank Promotions, the 26-year-old Zbikowski (4-0, three knockouts) scored a first-round knockout of Richard Bryant, a four-round decision over Caleb Gummet, and another first-round knockout of Blake Warner, respectively, on March 12, March 26 and April 12 during the NFL's work stoppage.
"I guess that it was just time to start getting ready for football. I understood how long that it took to transition into boxing and to kind of get to where I was feeling pretty good, which was that April 23 fight, which as almost about two and a half months of training," said Zbikowski.
"You know, being an NFL football player is not exactly easy either. So I knew that just looking at the calendar and understanding that I'm going to need a month and a half to two months to really get back into football shape," said Zbikowski. "That's at least what it's going to take to get my body ready to go for at least 16 games. That's going to take my body a lot longer than a simple week off to get into football just because I'm getting back into shape coming off of boxing."
A former amateur boxer who turned pro in 2007, Zbikowski was scheduled to face Mike Howell (2-1-1, one KO) on the under card of a main event featuring WBC middleweight (160 pounds) champ Sebastian Zbik and challenger Julio Cesar ChaveZ Jr. at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.
"You know, it was a very tough decision to give up the Staples Center and being able to fight there with the under card that they are having, that was a really tough decision," said Zbikowski. "But I think that at this point in my life, it was the smartest decision that I could have made, and, hopefully, God-willing, I'll be back to boxing once my football career is over."