Eric "Butterbean" Esch was a rotund fighter who came into professional boxing from "Toughman" competitions in 1994 and weighed in at over 370 pounds. His image is that of a rotund, bald, tough fighter. He was the "Two Ton" Tony Galento of his era.


Butterbean did not have an impressive list of opponents. He faced aging, former world champion Larry Holmes in 2002 and lost a 10 round decision, although Esch knocked Holmes down in the final round. He also fought Peter McNeeley, a former opponent of Mike Tyson in 1999, stopping McNeeley in the first round. He was IBA World Super Heavyweight Champion in 1996.

But Butterbean Esch may best be remembered for representing professional boxing against professional wrestling in a bout against Mike Plotcheck. Plotcheck, known to wrestling fans as Bart Gunn, had won a World Wrestling Federation's 1998 shoot tournament called the "Brawl for All".  The Brawl for All matches were a hybrid of wrestling and boxing that was a tournament among the finest wrestlers of the era and the bouts were not staged, nor were the outcomes pre-determined. During the competition, Gunn knocked out favorite "Dr. Death" Steve Williams on his way to the championship.

To promote his Brawl for All success,  the WWF set up a match between Gunn and Butterbean Esch at Wrestlemania XV. The bout occurred at the First Union Center in Philadelphia. Chuck Wepner, who participated in a legendary boxer-wrestler affair in a 1970's, was a judge.
Butterbean roared out of his corner with a flurry of punches to Gunn's head and body.  Gunn tried to cover but was dazed by a right to the face.  With Gunn on the ropes, Butterbean connected with a shot to the head and Gunn went down. Gunn rose at the count of eight only to by knocked out cold by right hook that snapped the wrestler's head back violently.  The punch was so ferocious that it stunned the crowd (video).


Esch knocked out Gunn within 30 seconds. It was a very frightening knockout that served to emphasize the difference between the nature of the two sports. Sadly, Gunn's legitimacy was ruined and he was released from his contract by the WWF. But, Gunn found success wrestling in Japan with New Japan and All Japan Wrestling under the ring name "Mike Barton."