Zibby Talks Boxing

Tom Zbikowski

Boxing is a brutal, individual sport that pits the strength and will of one person versus the other. It takes a lot of time and training preparing for one fight. For Notre Dame football player Tommy Zbikowski, he's not wasting any time before his June 10th fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"I'm actually trying to get the key today for the boxing gym at the Joyce," Zbikowski said today at a press conference discussing his first professional fight. "I'm going to have my father and trainer come up a couple days a week and help me start training. I'm already lifting with the strength staff here."

Zbikowski was surrounded by his lawyer and boxing advisor Mike Joyce and sister and public relations coordinator Kristen Zbikowski. Usually, one's boxing entourage are flamboyant about their guy's potential prospects. Joyce tried to do his best Don King impersonation in summing up the boxing talent of the Irish strong safety.

"If he wasn't playing football here at Notre Dame, people would be talking about this kid being the next Mike Tyson or the anti-Mike Tyson as far as out of the ring behavior goes," Joyce said. "His skills are that good and amateur credentials are that good. I firmly believe that if he tried out for our last Olympics, he would have been our representative."

Zbikowski, who claims that speed and defense are his strengths in the ring, still does not know who he's fighting on June 10th in the fourth-round battle. His camp and promoter Bob Arum have to mutually agree on a fighter with commensurate experience. He is expecting around 20 current Notre Dame players to make the trek to Madison Square Garden to watch the fight along with former players Justin Tuck and Ryan Grant, both of the New York Giants. Zbikowski said after June 10th, it's back to football.

"I'm just taking this as a one-fight deal," Zbikowski said. "I want to get ready for the football season."

Zbikowski has a lot of experience in the amateur division, where he is 66-13. His last amateur fight is set for May 20th in Chicago at the Aragon before shedding this status and making the jump to the professional ranks.

Zbikowski, listed at 202 pounds in the Notre Dame Spring Media Guide, wants to fight at 215 pounds. He'll train here and in Chicago for a few weeks before heading off to Miami to work out at Angelo Dundee's gym for a brief time period. For those not in the know, Dundee has trained all-time greats Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. The difference in training for a boxing match and football game varies a bit.

"The running will be a little different," Zbikowski said. "It'll more interval training with three minutes on and 30 seconds off. It's going to be a longer period of time to be active."

The nightmare scenario for Irish fans is the chance of him getting hurt in the ring. With a secondary ranked 103rd in the nation last season, Notre Dame can not afford to lose one of their top returning starters in the defensive backfield. Zbikowski has gone through 79 previous amateur fights seriously unharmed and he doesn't sound too concerned with this prospect.

"There's definitely a chance of me getting hurt in this fight," Zbikowski said. "But that's something I'm not really worried about."

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