Holmes-Butterbean to meet Saturday night at

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 25, 2002

Norfolk Scope

By Jason Norman

On Saturday night, he’ll take on Larry Holmes, the owner of a 68-6, 44-knockout record who held the World Heavyweight Championship for seven years, defeating such names as Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, and Ken Norton. But Eric &uot;Butterbean&uot; Esch isn’t exactly shivering with fear.

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&uot;Larry is the least of my worries right now,&uot; he says, warming up with his son, Brandon. &uot;I have a lot of respect for him outside the ring, but once we’re in there, I’m not going to show him any respect.&uot; The pair will meet in the 10-round

&uot;Respect: One Will Give it, One Will Get it,&uot; fight. The pay-per-view event, which will be held at the Norfolk Scope, will begin at 9 p.m.

Esch has reason to be unhappy with Holmes; in his 1998 autobiography, &uot;Against All Odds,&uot; (St. Martins Press) Holmes referred to Esch as &uot;a fat slob impersonating a fighter.&uot;

&uot;If a person doesn’t like me, that’s one thing,&uot; said Esch. &uot;I’ll still respect them if they come to my face and say, ‘I don’t like you.’ But then you have two-faced people; they go behind your back and say they don’t like you, but when you talk to their face, they say things like, ‘Oh, I was just joking with you, man! It’s cool!’ That’s what Larry’s like.&uot;

Esch has proven the ability to back up his words. Often fighting as many as 12 to 15 times a year, he’s the World Super Heavyweight Champ-ion, with a 63-1, 47-knockout record. The &uot;King of the Four-Rounders,&uot; he won 45 out of 47 &uot;Toughman&uot; competitions.

&uot;I tried to get Larry in a four-round fight, but he was scared,&uot; said Esch. &uot;But on Saturday, I’m going to have 10 rounds of fun.&uot;

If Holmes has something to say about it, Esch’s night won’t be the slightest bit enjoyable.

&uot;I’ve fought the Muhammad Alis, the Ken Nortons, all of them, and they don’t measure up to (Esch),&uot; said Holmes, warming up to Mich-ael Jackson music. &uot;But I really don’t care what he thinks of me, and I don’t have to say things before a fight. My jab is going to pop him, hit him, and hurt him.&uot;

After three decades between the ropes, the &uot;Easton Assassin&uot; promises that Sat-urday will be his last fight. But he wants to go out on a bang (or at least a knockout).

&uot;(Esch’s) name may be ‘Butterbean,’&uot; he said. &uot;But on Saturday night, I’m going to change it to ‘Jumping Bean,’ because he’s going to be jumping out of the ring after I hit him!&uot;

The Holmes-Esch fight is one of five fights on Saturday’s card. Jacqui Fraz-ier-Lyde, the daughter of boxing legend &uot;Smokin’&uot; Joe Frazier, will challenge Euro-pean World Champion Heidi Hart-mann. The NAF Middle-weight Championship will be up for grabs as Carl &uot;The Squirrel&uot; Daniels takes on Kirino Garcia. Golden &uot;14-Karat&uot; Johnson will put his WBC Continental America’s 140-pound title on the line against Cosme &uot;Chino&uot; Rivera. Dorin Spivey will take on Alexis Perez.

Gates will open at 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at $25, $35, and $50, and are available by calling 671-8100, visiting www.ticketmaster.com, or visting the Scope box office.