Ex-football player makes debut on PPV
Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Marc Gastineau and Alonzo Highsmith all failed to become serious contenders, but boxing trainer Emanuel Steward somehow believes former Washington Redskins and Colorado wide receiver Michael Westbrook could develop into a heavyweight contender. "If Michael had four, five, six fights under his belt, he would be taken seriously in the heavyweight division," said Steward on a conference call. "He has the mental toughness and physical strength to move into the heavyweight division." Westbrook will meet former New York Giants first round draft pick and Michigan stickout Jarrod Bunch in a battle of former NFL players in the King of the Cage mixed martial arts competition in Cleveland, Ohio on February 25. The main event, dubbed Payback, will premiere on a Pay-Per-View telecast on Sunday, March 6.
"We haven't had a new infusion of heavyweights into boxing since 1988 with Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis," added Steward. "Michael Westbrook at 220 pounds, with his athletic background, could be competitive. There is a void in the division, and he could be taken seriously."
Westbrook, well known for catching the famous Hail Mary pass from Kordell Stewart to give Colorado its memorable victory over Michigan, is a native of Detroit, and will be training at Emmanuel Steward's world renowned Kronk Gym in Detroit later this week. Steward has trained such champions as Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis and Oscar De La Hoya.
Mixed martial is the combination of wrestling judo kickboxing and regular boxing. There are three five minute rounds with one minute break, submission, tap-out, knockout or judges decision.
Said Westbrook: "This is not a football game, it will be an intense mixed martial arts match. Am I nervous? Not at all. There is no nervousness. All it is for me is a challenge. That's life, life is a big challenge. I haven't been nervous in a long time."
In the co-feature, Eric "Butterbean" Esch, the King of the Four Rounders from Jasper, Alabama, will square off against Dan Severn of Michigan.