ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Tom Zbikowski, the Baltimore Ravens safety and former Notre Dame star who is boxing during the NFL lockout, won a hard-fought four-round decision against Caleb Grummet on Saturday night at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall.
The fight was on the Yuriorkis Gamboa-Jorge Solis featherweight title fight card and drew in an excited crowd interested to see what a fighting football player could do in his first bout with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward in his corner.
Zbikowski got all he could handle from Grummet, whose fighting experience is mainly in mixed martial arts.
Zbikowski (3-0, 2 KOs), who boxed as a 195-pound cruiserweight against 215-pound heavyweight Grummet (0-1-1), did not the let the weight disparity bother him. Faster and a heavier hitter, Zbikowski took it to Grummet, 29, of Lake Odessa, Mich., landing lots of powerful right hands and uppercuts throughout the first two rounds.
But unlike his two previous pro fights, Grummet punched back some and extended Zbikowski, who knocked out his first two pro opponents in the first round, the distance.
"He was big and strong," Zbikowski said. "It was a learning experience. I have a lot of things to learn about boxing."
Zbikowski, 75-15 as an amateur, turned pro in 2006 while still at Notre Dame and needed only 49 seconds to knock out Robert Bell at Madison Square Garden. In his second fight, on March 12 in Las Vegas on the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga undercard, he needed only 1:45 to stop Richard Bryant.
Zbikowski seemed to get winded in the third round and took some heavy shots. Grummet, however, lost a point for a low blow in the round. He had been warned previously by referee Al Huggins for the infraction.
Grummet clearly won the fourth round, hurting Zbikowski with a right uppercut that stunned him. Zbikowski, 25, of Arlington Heights, Ill., was holding on and clearly winded as he looked to the large screen in the corner of the arena to see how much time was left as he tried to stay away for the final minute.
But Zbikowski had done enough in the first two rounds, plus he had the benefit from the point deduction from Grummet, to win 39-36 (twice) and 38-37.
"Thank goodness it wasn't a six-round fight," Steward said. "He has to come with me for some serious boxing training. He has to be with me."