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Old 01-18-2004, 01:52 PM #1
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Default Butterbean being investigated by the FBI.....

This article appereaed in yesterday's Las Vegas Sun....

"Eric "Butterbean" Esch is a likable guy with a big gut, a big punch and a big appetite for trouble. How else to explain why Esch, with the feds already breathing down his neck, would dare to step into the ring tonight in Birmingham, Ala., to participate in a questionable fight that, at the very least, seems designed to provide him with an easy night's work?

If the fight isn't on the up and up, it wouldn't be the first time Esch had been involved in a bout that resulted in a questionable outcome.

Now 35 and with 71 professional fights under his expansive belt, Esch is scheduled to face novice boxer Wally Kienbaum at The Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham.

They're slated, as is Esch's custom, to exchange punches for a maximum of four rounds.

But the man who served as the booking agent, or de facto matchmaker, for the fight doesn't believe it's going to go the distance.

He thinks Kienbaum is in there to lose.

"I know one thing for sure: the other guy (Kienbaum) hasn't been training," said former lightweight world champion Livingstone Bramble of Las Vegas, who made arrangements on behalf of Birmingham promoter Jimmy Logan to have Esch headline the card at The Boutwell, a 5,000-seat arena.

"It's terrible, terrible, terrible," Bramble said Thursday, referring to the scenario that led to Esch fighting Kienbaum and what is apt to happen tonight in Birmingham. "Butterbean has a bad (right) knee and they needed someone to stand right in front of him.

"(Kienbaum) is in Butterbean's manager's room right now, if you know what I mean."

Esch is managed by Art Dore, a central Michigan resident who continues to make a small fortune promoting "Toughman" fights in many (mostly unregulated) parts of the country. Toughman is no longer licensed in Nevada, although it has a number of cards scheduled across the nation including at least one in Utah in March.

Bramble implied that Dore was allowed to "bring the opponent" for Esch for the fight tonight in Birmingham and that he selected the unqualified Kienbaum.

Kienbaum is a resident of Midland, Mich., who apparently has participated in "Toughman" offshoots, but, based on a check of boxing websites that chart professional fighters and their records, he has not fought as a pro boxer.

He's fighting Esch because the man who was originally scheduled for the job, Dan Kosmiski, was deemed to be too difficult for the simple reason that he's "a mover," according to Bramble.

With Esch hurting, Kosmiski was thought to be too great of a risk despite a terrible professional boxing record of 17-31-1.

Esch, who is 64-3-4 with 50 knockouts, injured his knee while participating in a K1 (or mixed martial arts) event two weeks ago in Japan.

Kosmiski was then deleted as Esch's opponent and Kienbaum was brought in as a replacement. Calls to Kienbaum's home Thursday were not returned -- not unexpectedly in that he's in Alabama -- but a reporter with the Birmingham News said he saw Kienbaum at a press conference designed to promote tonight's fight and he said no information on Kienbaum's boxing past was presented and that Kienbaum appeared to be "at least 100 pounds" lighter than the burly Esch.

A computer search of Kienbaum's name revealed that he is a corrections officer who frequents the Twin Lake tavern in Twin Lake, Mich., when that facility hosts its Thursday night "Fight Night" and offers up to $200 for amateurs to come out of the crowd and fight one another.

"Alcohol and violence, they go hand in hand," Kienbaum is quoted as saying about Fight Night at the tavern in an Associated Press story from Twin Lake dated Dec. 10, 2001. "And, basically, when people are sitting here watching it, they're not out getting in trouble. It's really turned into kind of a family thing."

At the Birmingham press conference, Kienbaum told the Birmingham News reporter that he "always wanted to fight Butterbean."

Tonight he'll get his chance, but how prepared is he to face a man who has fought 71 times and weighs in excess of 300 pounds?

Both Logan and his matchmaker, Harry Barnett, have growing suspicions about Kienbaum's credentials, although Logan said, "I leave all my matchmaking to Harry."

Barnett said, "I'm looking into this myself," when asked about Kienbaum's background. "He appears to be a kickboxer who hasn't had any fights as a boxer.

"I'm trying to confront this aggressively (and) we may just turn this fight into an exhibition. People just want to see Butterbean, so it doesn't make any difference one way or another (if the fight with Kienbaum is regarded as legitimate or becomes part of either man's permanent boxing record)."

Esch's record already has its questions marks.

According to a boxing archive website handled by an English firm named BoxRec, Esch has had at least five fights in which the opponent may not have given a 100 percent effort.

These fights include: Esch vs. James Calvin Baker, March 19, 1996, in Long Beach, Calif., in which Esch won by first-round KO and "Baker admits to taking a dive in this fight, which lasted 18 seconds" according to BoxRec; Esch vs. Darryl Becker, April 22, 1996, in Altoona, Ia., that Esch won by third-round KO and "its is very possible that Becker, who fought under the alias Jack Ramsey, took a dive in this fight," according to BoxRec; Esch vs. Bill Duncan, April 17, 1997, in Tulsa that Esch won by second-round KO and resulted in Duncan being suspended "for taking an apparent dive" according to BoxRec; Esch vs. Bill Johnson, May 19, 2000, in Beverly Hills, Calif., that Esch won by second-round KO and "it is very possible that Johnson took a dive in this bout," according to BoxRec; and Esch vs. Marcus Rhode, Sept. 15, 2000, in Denver that Esch won by third-r ound KO and BoxRec notes that "the knockout punch didn't even touch Rhode."

Esch, who has done TV commercials for a casino buffet and a car dealership in Las Vegas, has fought 15 times in Nevada during his career, including 12 times in Las Vegas.

He has multiple fights in major venues, including five at the Thomas & Mack Center, and two each at Caesars Palace and Mandalay Bay.

Of those fights, one with Billy Eaton that was held Sept. 13, 1997 at the T&M, had a dubious quality to it, as Eaton knocked Esch down in the first round but then threw very few punches the rest of the way en route to fight that was scored a draw.

"There was (another fight) that I thought maybe should have been a draw but Butterbean got the win," said Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Marc Ratner, when asked for his recollections on Esch's fights here. "But nothing really struck me as untoward.

"Of course, it was very hard for me to approve all the opponents they wanted for him, because they always wanted guys with very little experience."

Esch's background and those of his opponents came into question this week in the aftermath of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's raid of the Top Rank Boxing Inc. offices in Las Vegas. While Esch no longer fights for Top Rank, he did fight for the company for several years and opened many of their larger shows as something of a novelty, gate attraction.

While it was known that the FBI took a great deal of the inventory in the Top Rank offices during its raid, the Sun learned Thursday that the FBI placed at least some emphasis on obtaining video tapes of Esch's fights that were part of Top Rank's files.
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Old 01-18-2004, 01:53 PM #2
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Boxing is so corrupt, there is worst **** going around in boxing than this......
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Old 01-19-2004, 06:42 PM #3
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Fat ass Butterbean is small time. If you want to root out the stink, look straight to the top: WBC, IBF and WBA.
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