NEW YORK, NY (June 6, 2006) -- The following, and the attached, is the transcript from the recent conference call hosted by TOMMY ZBIKOWSKI and his promoter Bob Arum, as they discussed Tommy Z's upcoming pro boxing debut on the Miguel Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi world jr. welterweight championship card which will be televised live on Pay-Per-View from Madison Square Garden This Saturday night..
Article posted on 07.06.2006
BOB ARUM: Lee, thank you. And I want to welcome everybody to the Tommy Zbikowski conference call. Everybody knows Tommy. Heís a great football player. People now begin to realize that he started boxing even before he started playing football. Boxing has been a passion for Tommy. Heís a top amateur fighter. Very impressive record in the Chicago area. And weíre delighted at Top Rank to be able to give Tommy the opportunity to make is press professional debut in Madison Square Garden. A sold out Madison Square Garden, because it looks like every seat is going to be gone based on the ticket sales that weíve had to date. Itís a great card. And Tommy is making his professional debut, and he should feel right at home because another great heavy weight, made his professional debut in Madison Square Garden, and heíll be handling some of the ring commentary, and thatís two time heavy weight champion Big George Foreman who will join Tim Ryan and Wally Matthews as part of the broadcast team.
So weíre really proud of the event. And we look forward to Tommy showing his stuff to Madison Square Garden. And with that, Iím going to turn it over to Tommy to make a few introductory remarks. Tommy.
Tommy Zbikowski: Thanks, Bob. I just want to once again, thank you and Top Rank for putting this together and giving me this shot and opportunity to fight at the Garden. And, you know, from what I hear, and everything going out there it seems, you know, the card is going to be unbelievable. And I hear the crowd is going to be unbelievable. So Iím ready to go. Iíve been itching and Iíve been antsy for the last two weeks, so Iím ready to go.
LACY BANKS, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Now last week, Tommy you took an exam to become a Chicago firefighter. Next week, youíre debuting as a prize fighter. Youíre all ready distinguished yourself as an outstanding football player. Will there be any truth to the rumor Iím thinking about starting that youíre going to take the Bar exam next month. And then youíre going to go to Cape Canaveral to fly to be a space astronaut? I mean whatís up with all of these things that youíre dabbling into.
Tommy Zbikowski: I think the Bar exam is a little stretch. I mean Iím used to fighting and the football playing. And, you know, the fireman exam was kind of Ė thatís something thatís been in the family. Just, you know, my grandfather and my uncle were fireman, and me and my brother growing up just around this area. You know, I always kind of Ė you know, not planned on it, but we always thought if something like that came up or, you know, eventually that we would probably be fireman together, you know, not knowing that my football and boxing career was going to take off.
So Ė but I mean I had to stay true to where Iím from, and where I came from and the promises I made my brother and my grandfather.
LACY BANKS: If we have a pecking order of your passions, which would be first, second, and third, you know, between football, fire fighting and prize fighting?
Tommy Zbikowski: Thatís tough. Man, thatís a good question. I mean the football and boxing are way at the top right now. I mean those are two that Iím most passionate about. Itís hard to say, I think after this fight when, you know, I finally get a chance to take the head gear off, and take the shirt off, and actually get my pro fight, you know, Iíll get a little better feel on, you know, which one Iím more passionate about football or boxing, but itís hard to say right now.
LACY BANKS: And last, how fit are you in your preparation? Are you ready to go right now? What do you know about your opponent? And what kind of fighter is Tommy Z.? Is there power punches? A fancy-dan boxer or what?
Tommy Zbikowski: Youíll see June 10. I donít want to give any tips out right now. Youíll see June 10 when I come out. I plan on putting on a good show. Iím in great shape. Iíve been probably put in over about 140, 150 round for this fight. So Iím shape. Iím ready to go fighting wise. And Iíve been doing my running. Iíve been doing my agility. So Iím about 214, 215 now, and I feel as fast as ever. So youíll see a good show June 10.
MICHAEL HIRSLEY, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Youíve been working with really a collage of coaches here with Danny Nieves (ph), Sam Colona (ph) and now Angelo Dundee. Whoís going to be in your corner, on fight night? And maybe tell us a little bit about what Angelo (ph) has added to your other trainers?
Tommy Zbikowski: From what I hear, all three of them are going to be in the corner. I know Danny (ph) and Sam (ph) are going be in the corner. I think, Angelo (ph) has been added. But just, you know, Danny (ph) was down with me in Miami for, you know, a week or so and just got a chance to be around Angelo (ph) and just see how many Ė you know, heís gotten ready for so many big time fights, thatís good to just see the preparation, you know, the final touches that need to be done to make sure I get this win June 10.
MICHAEL HIRSLEY: Can you talk a little bit about what experience youíve had at Madison Square Garden. Have you ever been there prior to your press conference?
Tommy Zbikowski: No. The press conference was the first time Iíve ever been to New York, and Iíve ever been to the Garden. So it was good to get a feel for what the arena was like. And, you know, kind of get those butterflies out to see the arena before. You know, I donít want to fight night walking in, and thatís the first time Iíve ever seen the garden. You know, Iíd be kind of overwhelming, but it was good just to see it during the press conference, as, you know, kind of just a regular person walking around and seeing what itís all about and kind of feel the presence, you know, the aura of that Garden..
EDDIE GOLDMAN, SECONDSOUT.COM RADIO: I want to ask you, obviously, Notre Dame is probably the most famous college football team and gets a huge amount of attention and publicity. How does the lead up to this fight up at Madison Square Garden compare to one of the big football games that youíve had a Notre Dame
Tommy Zbikowski: Itís been a little different, because itís a little more, you know, spread out, itís a couple of weeks, you know, a couple of months, you know, promoting the fight, taking interviews and everything. When youíre getting ready for a football game, you really only got that one week before a big game, like for instance like the USC game, you know, really starting getting big, about Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week. Itís not weeks in advance where it show up on, you know, ESPN or things like that. Itís kind of more a week to week thing. Where this is a little more built up over time.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Is it kind of a different atmosphere in the sense, because now youíre coming in as a professional athlete? And there, even though again, given Notre Dameís popularity, youíre still there, as a college student, as an amateur and under the NCAA rules?
Tommy Zbikowski: Iím not sure what the question was, but, you know, is there anyÖ
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Yes, I mean how is it different being in the pros than in the college game in terms of the way that youíre treating, the way everybody is approaching you?
Tommy Zbikowski: You know, I think itís kind of the same. You know, I think thatís what Notre Dame has benefited me as because the media and outside people kind of look at, you know, as intelligent football players that can be kind of treated as, you know, not professional athletes, but, you know, taking media questions and handle the pressure. I think thatís what has helped me, mold me into, you know, being able to handle this professional game a little bit better. Just, you know, the amount of pressure and the amount of media attention, you know, weíre on national TV pretty much every single weekend. And, you know, the media coverage is country, you know, itís coast to coast, itís not just the Midwest area. So, you know, itís gotten you ready for the professional ranks.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Do you know much about the guy Robert Bell, that youíre fighting? He did fight in the New York area. He was knocked out in the first round in his last fight by Travis Kauffman who was an amateur standout a young fighter, coming up, like yourself.
Tommy Zbikowski: Yes, thatís pretty much all I know. I know heís two and two. And all of the fights have ended in knock outs. And from what Iíve read on the Internet, heís planning on wearing an Ohio State Jersey, so thatís about all I know.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Is that just to bug you a little bit.
Tommy Zbikowski: No. You know, you can do what you want to get in the Ė to get ready for the fight, or trying to get a little trash talk. You know, once the bell rings, Iím all business. Thatís all that matters.
CARL FREITAG: A lot of the younger fighters these days, or a lot of the younger athletes arenít going into boxing, theyíre going into football. What is it that attracted you to boxing? And what do you think is the reason why thereís less and less young people getting in boxing these days?
Tommy Zbikowski: You know, itís hard to say why people arenít, you know, getting involved with boxing at a young age. But I was always around it, just, you know, kind of my father loved boxing and loved the fight games. So, you know, I was just introduced to the gym, you know, not necessarily competitive boxing, but just, you know, the gym. And just watching the fights. It always, you know, I was hooked on it from a young age, and itís hard to say, you know, why kids arenít wanting to box, or wanting to fight. Theyíre going into football or baseball or basketball and stuff like. But, you know, itís hard to say. I donít know, you know, what exactly. I love it. I donít think thereís too many sports that are better than it, but, you know, itís hard to say why kids donít like it.
KARL FREITAG, FIGHTNEWS.COM: Do you love it enough to keep doing it after you graduate and maybe get drafted in the NFL?
Tommy Zbikowski: I hope to. I really hope to. I donít know if the NFL coaches or the owners are going to like that. But I definitely will keep training, and I definitely will keep watching boxing no matter where Iím at.
KARL FREITAG: OK. And Bob, as far as non boxing publications, just general media, the fight with Tommy seems to be generating a lot of buzz, have you ever seen anything like this before?
BOB ARUM: No. Really not. Really not. I think that this is very, very unique. But I have to emphasize the fact that this is not a situation where you pluck somebody who excels in one sport, and put them in another sport. Tommy has been boxing, and you can correct me if Iím wrong, Tommy since heís nine years old. So he has established credentials on the amateur level as a boxer. This is not like taking, they had Ed ďToo TallĒ Jones years ago and they made him a boxer. Thatís not the case here.
This is a kid who had two passions, at least two passions, one football and one boxing. And so weíre delighted to give him the opportunity to show how good he is as a fighter, as a boxer, just the way everybody is seeing what a wonderful football player he is.
LACY BANKS: Yes, Bob, since we have you here, have you signed a multi year contract with Tommy or what? How has that shaped up for you?
BOB ARUM: Well we have a one fight contract with an understanding that if Tommy continues in boxing weíll do hi future fights at least, the next couple of fights. But weíre really looking at this, the coach of Notre Dame said that he Ė because I have another show in August that I wanted to put him on, Rahman-Maskaev, the August 12 heavyweight championship in Las Vegas, but the coach said no. Obviously, he has to train for the football season. So letís see.
First, letís see, how Tommy said, how heís going to do. And secondly, when and if he can continue his boxing career.
LACY BANKS: Also, roughly, give me a ball part area of what his purse might be? And what is the purse for the headline bout?
BOB ARUM: The purse for the headline bout I think Cottoís purse is $850,000. And the purse for Malignaggi is $350,000. I think Tommy is getting, Iím not sure, I think $25,000 or something like that.
LACY BANKS: And Tommy what year are you? What year will you be entering at Notre Dame?
Tommy Zbikowski: Iíll be entering my senior year.
LACY BANKS: Youíll be a senior. OK.
BOB ARUM: Lacy, while youíre on, man.
LACY BANKS: Yes, sir.
BOB ARUM: Iíve got to tell you, youíre going to love this because I got my good friend whoís coming to Madison Square Garden, the great Gospel singers in the world BB Wyman (ph). BB (ph) Ė listen to this Lacy. When Tommy comes out BB (ph) is going to lead everybody in singing the Notre Dame fight song.
LACY BANKS: Oh, my goodness.
BOB ARUM: And then before the main event, heís going to sing God Bless America. Is that going to be great?
LACY BANKS: Thatís going to be mighty.
BOB ARUM: Is that going to tear the house down?
LACY BANKS: BBís (ph) got some awesome pipes.
BOB ARUM: Yes, I know. Heís a good friend of mine. Heís a terrific guy.
LACY BANKS: Great. One last thing for Tommy. Your mother, I mean has she ever said something like Tommy what am I going to do with you? Is there anything else on your burners besides fire-fighting, football and boxing?
Tommy Zbikowski: Thatís it for right now. Iíll let you know if anything else comes up, if I think of anything good. Iíll let you know, though.
BILL CAPLAN: I just want you guys out there to know that Iíve been a camp follower, kind of a Tommy Z. groupie for the last few weeks. And Tommy, Iíd like you to talk a little bit about your coachís support, and your team support. And the guys, maybe, you know, whoís going to show up at the fight? And just how your coach feels about all of this stuff?
And a two part question, Iíve watched you spar a lot of these 140 rounds, and youíre a very tough guy. And Iíve watched you play football and youíre a very tough guy. So tell us a little bit, part two about the difference in the hits.
Tommy Zbikowski: You know, the difference in the hits, boxing, you know, you kind of get those, you know, quick jaw, jaw moving punches that, you know, sometimes you donít see where theyíre coming. So theyíre a lot painful than, you know, football. But also, when youíre punt returning, and youíre standing alone and youíve got 11 guys coming down you full speed, and thereís no where to go but go full speed right back at them, itís kind of, you know, you also donít see hits coming from there.
But, you know, boxing at least, you know, itís only you, you know, one other guy you know where itís coming from. Where on the football field, you can get hit from other angles. And I mean Iím sure, you know, people have seen it on TV where I mean legs are broke, knees have shattered. You know, it gets ugly in football, but, you know, boxing is not much prettier.
And the, the support of my team, I mean Iím starting to get the phone calls now with wishing me luck and everything like that, and itís still a week before the fight. And I think, oh god, I think the list is up to like 30, 35, 40 guys coming to the fight. And I know Brady (ph) is going to be there. Samarti (ph) is playing baseball in Kentucky, but heís hopefully Ė heís going to try and make it. And then pretty much 30 other guys that are from starters to walk-ons to, you know, players that I played with in the past. So the support of my team and the coaching staff has been unbelievable.
BILL CAPLAN: What about Charlieís Weisí support and his permission and his so on.
Tommy Zbikowski: I mean I love the fact that, you know, he gave me permission to do this before. And Iíve said it before, when youíve got a coach that wants his players to succeed, you know, on the football field, and outside the football field. I know with letting Jeff (ph) play baseball and succeed in baseball itís opened up, you know, different things for him. And with him letting me, you know, box, itís opened up different doors for me. And then, you know, just making sure everyone is succeeding, you know, in the classroom and outside the field. Itís just Ė thereís not too many coaches like that, and, you know, our entire team and definitely weíve just been blessed to have him as our coach.
MICHAEL HIRSLEY: Yes, Tommy. I wanted to follow up on your talking about working with Angelo Dundee (ph) down in Florida. Aside from giving you a sense of working with the trainer, a legendary trainer, were there any specifics that he added to what, you know, what you would otherwise bring to the ring? Anything that he said, letís focus on this by the time youíre here.
Tommy Zbikowski: Yes, I think, you know, coming for the amateurs, thereís a lot, you know, kind of a lot of wasted movement, as I liked to call it, and he called it, with, you know, bouncing around and moving a little too much. Because obviously, you know, theyíre three round fights, and only two minutes of rounds, so you can afford, you know, that extra movement, because itís really not going to pay a toll on you.
But once you, you know, get Ė obviously this is a four round fight, itís not that much longer, but, you know, as a competitor, you always want to get better, you always want to learn things. And, you know, if youíre going to take a boxing career seriously, youíve got to learn those small things where, you know, youíve got to be able to conserve that energy over time. And pick and choose when youíve got to use your movements, and stuff like that, and things like that. So it was very helpful.
MICHAEL HIRSLEY: Anything particularly with, you know, with the kind of jabs that you might use in pro boxing, or setting up power punches thatís different from amateur?
Tommy Zbikowski: Yes, definitely using a stiffer jab. I like to Ė I like using my jab in a lot of different ways, whether, you know, defensive to keep someone off, or offensive to try to find the range on someone, or just, you know, setting them up for other things. But, you know, mainly when youíre pro, you know, you canít be slapping a jab out there, because the guys are too good, and theyíre going to counter that.
LACY BANKS: I read a clip here that you started out as a south paw, or you were thinking you were a south paw. I mean are you a right hander? Or are you a switch hitter, or what?
Tommy Zbikowski: No. Iíve always been righty, but my father is the only lefty in the family, and I just Ė I watched him. You know, it was pretty much Ė I was a younger kid, so I was just the tag along, so I had to watch from the side, and, you know, pretty much what I looked, you know, I saw him doing it, so I tried to copy the exact same thing. You know, Iíd never switch. I thought I was a lefty the first couple of times I went boxing.
LACY BANKS: OK. And how is boxing helping you to become a better football player? I know thereís a lot of hand eye coordination in being a good boxer and playing at your particular position.
Tommy Zbikowski: Yes, there really is the hand eye coordination. And, you know, the speed of if youíre covering someone, youíve got to use bump and run. Or youíve got to get your hands on someone, just being able to use your hands that kick. Because obviously you canít just put your hands on them, you know, receivers are taught to counter that with either like a swim type move or, you know, slapping the hands off.
And just, you know, defensive back youíve got to re counter that. And just going to through boxing, be able to do that, you know, kind of that counter, re counter and using your hands as weapons is something thatís benefited me as a defensive back.
BOB ARUM: Yes, I want to thank you all for coming on this conference call. I want to thank Tommy for participating. I want to welcome you all to the Big Apple, Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of boxing, on Saturday night, June 10. Itís going to be a tremendous show in addition to Tommy fighting Robert Bell, the main event Miguel Cotto and Paulie Malignaggi for the Junior Welterweight Championship. The card also features Irish John Duddy, from Dary, Ireland, undefeated middleweight, very popular in the New York area fighting Freddie Cuevas
of Chicago. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is on the card. Bobby Pacquiao, the brother of Manny Pacquiao faces former world champion, ďThe Flushing FlashĒ Kevin Kelly. Juan Manual Lopez also is featured on the card. So it should be a great night of boxing.
One thing youíre going to have a lot of fun watching the telecast, or if you can make it to Madison Square Garden, because the energy is going to be enormous. And weíre going to see something historic with the professional debut of Tommy Z.