Sunday, March 4, 2007

Butterbean’s a two-scaler

Promoter Jimbo Isperduli couldn’t afford a helicopter and harness to pick up 385-pound Eric “Butterbean” Esch and weigh him like a giant sack of potatoes, so he decided on the next-best thing — two scales, one for each beefy leg.

That’s how the self-proclaimed “King of the Four-Rounders” will be officially weighed in this week for Friday night’s long-anticipated collision with Leominster drug detective Joe Siciliano at the Palladium, 261 Main St., in downtown Worcester.

The bout, the main event of a nine-fight card, is scheduled for four rounds, but few expect it to go the distance. Esch (76-7-4), who could weigh anywhere from 380 to 390 pounds, has won 57 of his 87 pro fights by knockout — 36 of those in the first or second round.

Siciliano (4-3-0, 2 KOs) is a decided underdog, as are most of Butterbean’s opponents, but has been training hard for the biggest fight of his life.

“He’s pushing it this week, and he’s feeling real good about it,” said Isperduli, who is doubling as Siciliano’s trainer, last week.

But does the 49-year-old part-time brawler really have a shot against the massive Butterbean, who scored a first-round TKO in 1999 of “Hurricane” Peter McNeeley, the same fighter who one year later disposed of Siciliano in the first round?

“If he’s in decent shape and he decides, realistically, that nobody knocks Butterbean out, and if he stays on his toes and boxes the guy, he’s got a chance,” insisted Isperduli, a world-class trainer who works with fighters like Vasily Jirov and Harry “The Terminator” Simon. “That’s been drilled into his brain. Joe’s got good legs.

“But when that first (big) punch lands, boxing sometimes goes out the window, and it turns into a barroom brawl,” Isperduli added. “Once that happens, your guess is as good as mine.”

Because of the 5-foot-11 Butterbean’s enormous weight, a conventional scale is useless because it has a limit of 350 pounds. Hence, the plan to put two scales side-by-side, and have Butterbean straddle them, putting one leg on each, and then adding up the totals.

“It’s the only way I can do it,” said Isperduli, adding that Butterbean is due to arrive Tuesday at Logan Airport from Birmingham, Ala.

The 5-10 Siciliano is expected to weigh between 300 and 310 pounds, which would be a record for him. He weighed a high of 284 for his most recent fight in June, but said he wants to maintain as much weight as possible to try and match Butterbean’s strength.

The weigh-in for the full card, as well as the press conference, are open to the public. Both will be held in the plaza in front of The Restaurant at Union Station — the press conference at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the weigh-in at 6 p.m. Thursday. Butterbean will attend both events, and might be available for autographs before and after each event.

Friday’s show will also include the pro debut of “Babybean” — Butterbean’s 21-year-old son, 280-pound Brandon Esch — in another super heavyweight four-rounder against Matt Eckerly (1-3-0, 1 KO) of Midland, Mich. Like his dad, Brandon makes his home in Jasper, Ala.

Undefeated Worcester cruiserweight Adam Harris (9-0-0, 7 knockouts) expressed an interest last week in being on the card, but Isperduli said Harris’ promoter, Mike Fingerman Promotions of Philadelphia, never got back to him. So, as of now, Harris is not being included, even though Isperduli had arranged for his opponent — Wes Taylor (5-10-1) of Milledgeville, Ga.

The rest of the card, all four-rounders:

• Chuck Shearns of Auburn, pro debut, vs. Patrick Bozeman of Philadelphia (0-2-0), middleweights.

• Luis Viramontes (1-0) of Worcester vs. Olade Thomas (0-1) of Providence, welterweights.

• Joe “Sugar” Rea (5-0-1, 4) of Quincy by way of Belfast, Northern Ireland vs. John Scalzi (14-37-0, 2) of Altoona, Pa., middleweights.

• Andre Nevsky of Worcester via Russia, pro debut, vs. Montez Wilson (0-8-0) of Camden, N.J., super middleweights.

• Chris Traietti (5-0-0, 3) of Quincy vs. Isreal Figueroa (6-18-4, 1) of Hartford, light heavyweights.

Also on tap are a pair of exhibitions, consisting of three two-minute rounds, pitting Worcester City Councilor Rick Rushton against Kevin Carlo, owner of Fat Tony’s Pub in Worcester’s Webster Square, and City Councilor Joff Smith against Wayne Harnois of Worcester.

“You cannot believe the interest in this,” Isperduli said. “Don’t be surprised if we get 500 people for the weigh-in. This is Worcester’s party. Everyone should come out and enjoy themselves.”

Tickets ($30 general admission, $50 ringside) are available at the Palladium and various other sites around Worcester County.

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