Byline: Bud Barth
No, you're not seeing double. It's two Butterbeans for the price of one.
More than 660 pounds of Esches - 385-pound Eric Esch, a.k.a. Butterbean, and his 21-year-old son, 280-pound Brandon Esch, a carbon copy of dad right down to the bald head - will be creaking the floorboards at the Palladium in downtown Worcester when Jimbo Isperduli's Paxton Entertainment & Sports presents a live pro boxing show on Friday, March 9. An overflow crowd of 3,000 fans is expected.
Butterbean, a good ol' boy from Jasper, Ala., with more than 100 pro boxing and mixed martial arts matches on his resume, is taking on 300-pound Leominster narcotics detective Joe Siciliano, a part-time pro who has been training at the Muscleworks Gym in Gardner, Orchard Hills Gym in Lancaster, and Camp Fitzy's in Worcester for what will be the biggest fight - figuratively and literally - of his life.
Assuming both fighters hit their target weights, the scheduled four-rounder could set a world record for total poundage in a boxing match - around 685. The unofficial record is believed to be 676 pounds, set in July 2004 when the 5-foot-11-1/2 Butterbean tipped the scales at a relatively trim 365 for a fight against 311-pound Salvador Farnetti in San Jose, Calif.
Butterbean, who is 40 years old but tells reporters he's 38, has developed a worldwide cult following over the years with his colorful ring routine and his "regular guy" persona. The rotund figure with the shaved head and menacing scowl has been dubbed "King of the Four-Rounders," stringing together a 76-7-4 record with 57 knockouts since turning pro in 1994, after several years of dominating in amateur Toughman competitions.
Even more amazing, Butterbean competes in boxing and mixed martial arts events simultaneously, compiling a 9-2-1 record in the latter sport. In fact, he fought an MMA match the week before last in Fresno, Calif. (combined weight of the principals: 765 pounds), and he has another one scheduled for Feb. 10 at Wembley Arena in London. That's less than a month before his fight with Siciliano, and just two months after his last boxing match, a first-round KO of Joaquin Garcia in December.
"I've got a great job," Butterbean said on Friday. "I get to beat people up for a living, I get paid well to do it, and I don't go to jail. That's pretty good."
Outside the ring, Butterbean likes to be called Eric and admits to being "pretty easygoing," even if it's not good for his image...