What Happened to Butterbean? An Update on the Ex-Heavyweight Champ

Butterbean said in 2024 that he’s gearing up for “one last fight,” potentially someone from “the wrestling community.”


Mar. 19 2024, Published 1:06 p.m. ET

Butterbean fighting Doug Phillips during a heavyweight boxing match on Dec. 6, 1997, in Atlantic City, N.J.
Source: Getty Images

Butterbean fighting Doug Phillips during a heavyweight boxing match on Dec. 6, 1997, in Atlantic City, N.J.

Boxing fans are wondering what happened to Butterbean, aka the boxer born Eric Esch. After all, this is a guy who won the International Boxing Association super heavyweight championship in 1997 and defended it five times and who knocked out Bart Gunn in just 34 seconds at 1999’s WrestleMania XV.

Here’s what we know about Butterbean’s life now…

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What happened to Butterbean? He said he's planning “one last fight.”

It sounds like Butterbean might soon take a final jab at boxing glory.

“I got one last fight we’re gonna do,” Butterbean said at a K & S WrestleFest virtual signing in January 2024, per POST Wrestling. “We’re not sure exactly who we’re gonna fight. A lot of talks of several big names… There’s one of ’em in the wrestling community that’s been brought up several times. … Who I’d love to fight and I always haven’t was [Mike] Tyson, and it’s very possible he could be one of the four that we’re talking with now.”

Butterbean has also lost more than 200 pounds.

In an August 2023 Instagram video, Butterbean discussed his recent weight loss as he stepped on the scale. “Look, I’ve never done a public weigh-in. First time,” he said in the clip. “I was 515 about a year and a half ago, two years ago, so let’s see what I weigh now,” he said.

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Before he got the results, Butterbean told fans that he’d been working out with DDP Yoga, a fitness program led by retired pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.

“Mr. Diamond Dallas Page has helped me and my buddy Joshua, so let’s see what I weigh,” Butterbean said. The result? He weighed in at 303.8 pounds.

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In an interview published in June 2022, Butterbean told The Sun that he was on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet made up of low-carb, high-protein meals. “And it’s given me more energy and life since I was fighting regularly. But now, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “I’m at my lowest weight right now than I’ve ever been — I’ve never fought at this weight, as a matter of fact.”

Butterbean was ready to box Tyson then, too. “I’m alive right now, I’m good to go,” he said. “And Mike is in great shape. It would be a hell of a fight.”

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Butterbean hosted the 2024 Roughest and Toughest Brawl Series as well.

On Jan. 5, 2024, Butterbean kicked off the 10-city 2024 Roughest and Toughest Brawl Series, launching the tour in Gadsden, Ala.

“Eric — I mean Butterbean — used the toughman platform to become a worldwide sensation. The next great Brawler may emerge here,” promoter “Money Mike” Long said in a press release. “Butterbean became a household name as the king of the four rounders. He excelled as a boxer, kick-boxer, wrestler, and MMA fighter. No one was more exhilarating to watch coming out of his corner.”

In the release, Butterbean said that a production team would follow the tour to film a “never-before-seen reality show” that would document the making of an amateur Brawl tour across eight episodes.

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