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In Boxing, a Quadrilogy is Rare. Going 2-2 Against Butterbean Even More So

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  • In Boxing, a Quadrilogy is Rare. Going 2-2 Against Butterbean Even More So

    Click image for larger version  Name:	butterbean.PNG Views:	11 Size:	690.5 KB ID:	19246

    By Ted Sares

    The late heavyweight Mitch Rose could not translate his Golden Gloves amateur skills to the pro ranks. He retired with an underwhelming 2-11-1 mark, but he did enough quirky things to put his life story in a book and one of the most memorable parts of it involved his being the first fighter to stop Eric “Butterbean” Esch, the legendary knockout machine who was trumpeted as the King of the Four Rounders. Rose did it on an undercard bout at Madison Square Garden on a show with Oscar De La Hoya and Arturo Gatti in the featured bouts.

    “… Rose was a tried and true New Yorker. As loud and funny as he was, he never seemed to take himself too seriously. He had a big heart, a lot of dreams, and an emotional honesty that was extremely refreshing.” -- Robert Mladinich, NYFIGHTS

    As Bernard Fernandez noted, Eric Esch, aka Butterbean, rebounded nicely. “(He) went on to continue his unlikely advance to stardom of sorts as a bald and blubbery blaster.”

    Butterbean, who also competed in MMA and in Tough Man competitions, developed a cult following and retired with a boxing record of 77-10-4. But Butterbean’s last three losses came between 2009-2013, long after he should have left the boxing scene.

    Enter Kenny “The Raven” Craven (here’s a recent picture).


    “Wherever you find yourself in time... Please remember to do the right thing.” -- Kenny Craven

    A soulful and righteous man who believes in equality and walks the walk, Craven, a Mississippian from tiny Ellisville, is a follower of the teachings of Desmond Tutu. He is pro-people and pro-underdog and will not bypass injustice.

    “I wrote a post yesterday on Facebook that expanded my view of the power of the people. All of us know we have this power but we have no idea how to use it. Well, we do know how it is used but we make a conscious decision not to. Why? We the people have supreme authority but we give this gift to just a few people who do not even like us.” -- Craven

    Kenny Craven finished his pro boxing career with a 28-20 record. He won 23 by knockout BUT all of his 20 losses came by knockout and that made him an exciting fighter, if nothing else. Kenny was a fan favorite on the southern circuit and if his opponent didn’t get him, he usually got his opponent and the fans could anticipate with near 100 percent accuracy that someone was getting knocked down.

    The other thing about Kenny was that he fought a Who’s Who of elite fighters. They included Henry Akinwande (37-1-1 coming in), Michael Nunn (55-4), Vaughn Bean (41-2 and no relation to Butterbean), Attila Levin (27-1), Albert Sosnowski (33-1), Clifford Etienne (28-2-2), Calvin Brock (25-0), Timur Ibragimov (20-0-1), Oliver McCall (46-8), Vassiliy Jirov (36-3-1), and Ezra Sellers (28-7).

    In 1999, “The Raven” was stopped by Butterbean (48-1-2) in the second round on the undercard of the De La Hoya vs Trinidad fight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was Alabama vs Mississippi. However, in the first round, Craven displayed the blueprint on how to beat the ‘King of Four Rounders” by using a stick and run approach.

    In 2005, Kenny lasted until the third round before the Bean (then 71-3-4) overwhelmed him.

    But just three months later in Jackson, Mississippi, Kenny finally figured out Esch and utilized the blueprint by jabbing and moving laterally, and won a majority decision over the heavily favored Bean in front of a small but howling and disbelieving crowd. The fact that Tonya Harding was on the undercard added to the circus-like atmosphere.

    Then, three months later in Bejing, China, Kenny did it again. Yes, in China!!? This time he had his way with Eric and cruised to an easy win.

    In a rare Quadrilogy, Kenny Craven went 2-2 with Eric Esch who never managed to knock Kenny down or even hurt him. No mean feat.

    Mitch Rose had his moment. Kenny Craven had two. As Kenny says, “I did the best I could for a guy with three amateur fights and growing up in rural Mississippi. I loved every second, the good and the bad.”

    Ted Sares can be reached at

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

  • #2
    The Raven never got official credit for his best showing. The best accomplishment and worst injustice/feeling involved the same fight. As he tells it,
    "The Black Rhino fight in Louisville, Kentucky. I knocked Clifford out in the 1st round. He was down well over 12 seconds. He then unintentionally headbutted me trying to hold on. They stopped the fight in the second round due to cut and ruled the bout a NC. On my way back to the dressing room I heard the bell, followed by the voice of the announcer. They claimed the cut was the result of a punch and not a headbutt.

    "What should have been a very big win went to a NC --- to a TKO loss, in the course of a couple of minutes. I protested the result with the commission to no avail. If I had gotten that win it could have lead to better options for my career. Again, I never saw a video. They claim the fight was not recorded. I find that hard to believe."

    Knowing Kenny's reputation for honesty, I tend to go with him on this one.


    • #3
      "Solid GOLD, Ted. One of your best. Did not know that much about The Raven. Terrific article." Robert Mladinich


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        This from Kenny: "I would say the Jackson fight felt pretty good. The China fight was a bit different. I did not enjoy the fight. I loved China but felt bad for the bean. I like the guy, I remember hitting him at will in China. It's sorta strange, he beat me twice, never knocking me down or even hurting me. One would think I would have wanted to rough him up when I had the chance. Nope, cruising to an easy decision was ok with me. He's a class dude, gave me heartburn medicine the night before our bout. I was dying and remembered he mentioned having medication for heartburn. I called his room and he laughed and said come on up. We chatted for a bit before I left. I've never been angry before a fight, it's just a natural process, like having a conversation. I do wish I had video of the China bout. I have never seen it, or known if there is a video..."

        Kenny confirms what a lot of fans suspect, that the Bean is a pretty decent guy. His COMBINED fight record is 97–24–5 with 65 knockouts and 9 submissions-MMA, WRESTLING, BOXING.
        Last edited by Kid Blast; 05-02-2021, 07:06 PM.

      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment

        Great article. I saw Butterbean fight at Foxwoods once. He was better than most people thought.

        Charley Dwyer

      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        "Interesting Ted. Lots of this I did not know. Pls. be advised that my computer is finally
        working after being hacked and shut down for 3 weeks.
        Always in your corner, BOB BENOIT"

    • #4

      Great article,

      I refereed Mitch Rose back in 1991 on the first pro card I ever did.

      I was in Kenny "The Raven" Craven's corner against Vassily Jirov in North Dakota July 14, 2007.

      I wrote an article on this experience called, "The Tiger, The Raven, The Mountain Lion and the Panther."

      Jirov wore Tiger trunks, the Mountain Lions were right outside the hotel, and I had worn a Panther on all my boxing trunks and robes for all my fights while training with Rubin Carter.

      When I heard them play "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan on the way to the ring I could not believe it and Kenny said to me, that's in your honor.

      I never wanted a fighter to win so much as him. If only he did not break training.

      I always liked Kenny and we trained together in the gym I managed called "Snoops" in Poughkeepsie NY. Put together by a great boxing guy Billy "Talking Boxing with Billy C" Calogero who managed Ken Craven and made me manager and chief trainer at " Snoops."

      Kenny loved his family very much and he missed them. We trained hard for awhile and he cut training short and went back home to see his family down South.

      Me and Bill Calogero did not see him again for a long time and we finally met him at the airport in North Dakota and took the very long ride to the 10 Bears Casino the night before the fight.

      Kenny looked over weight to me and he was by about 13lbs. He had to lose that weight by weigh in time the next day.. I wanted to call the fight off for his health. He was adamant about fighting.

      Upon arrival at the hotel they made us sit in the lobby after a long flight and a very long ride there by Van.

      Who was in the Van with us? Vassily Jirov for the whole ride. He went right up to his room with his corner men while the desk clerk said they could not find our reservations.

      It took a lot of complaining to get a room for us and it was very stressful for all of us especially for our fighter.

      The next morning Kenny had to do roadwork on the same day of the fight which was insane in a rubber suit with helicopters flying overhead with rifles patrolling for Mountain Lions near the hotel it was so dangerous.

      One dead Mountain Lion was laying right outside the hotel by a stream and drain pipe. The police were warning everyone not to go outside but there was Kenny running down the road. He was stressed and pissed off and I pity the Mountain Lion that would run into Kenny. We were more worried about Jirov.

      I had mainlined videos of Jirov for a month studying him and Kenny and I worked on his right uppercut.

      Kenny was a strong an sturdy fighter and I liked him very much as a person.

      He had a good heart. Jirov was a powerhouse mentally and physically and had my buddy Thel Torrence in his corner. Thel and I go back to the 60's with boxers we worked with and knew well.

      Kenny finally made the weight and Jirov was a little over. I made Vassily lose the weight and come back to the scale which pissed them all off on Jirov's team, but that was my job to make him lose it like our guy had to.

      Sadly Kenny was so weak he should have been in a hospital instead of in the ring but he was determined to go through with the fight. He then ate all the wrong foods over my stern objection but he did it anyway he was so hungry. He stuffed himself with Roast beef or a steak and mashed potatoes. I could see his belly swell up from it all.

      I was hoping for fish and a salad for him and some healthy carbs.

      I was worried sick for him but he was determined to go on with the fight.

      When we got in the ring I knew the only chance was to get Jirov quick. I was up in Kenny's room before the fight working on that right uppercut with him.

      He hit Jirov with it and put the dip in his hip almost dropping him and then Ken ran out of gas and was getting hit with body shots that did not agree with the former meal he had eaten.


      He gave it all he had and said to me in the corner, "I'm sorry Ron, I let you down." I told him bullshit, don't ever say that, I am very proud of you for many reasons, he was the bravest fighter I ever saw and you did not let me down in anyway. You had to go be with your family and that's that. We all learned from this. Just be safe and well.

      I miss Ken and always pray he is safe and well.

      P.S. I had a moment alone with Jirov later in the night. He was a Vegan and was munching on raw carrots.

      I asked him what kind of training he did to stay quick on his feet.

      He told me the following in broken English, "My trainer would have me run down a small hallway to get to the door at the other end, and a vicious German Sheppard would chase me. If I did not get there in time, he would tear my *** off.

      If I had known that before the fight I think we should have taken our chances with the Mountain Lions instead.
      Last edited by Ron Lipton; 05-03-2021, 01:06 AM.


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        WTF, That's a better story than mine.

    • #5
      Thanks for sharing that. Good read.


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, that was very enjoyable. Kenny is something else.

      • Ron Lipton
        Ron Lipton commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you Arne and Ted, I enjoyed reading "In Boxing, a Quadrilogy is Rare. Going 2-2 Against Butterbean Even More So, very much." Be safe and well. Ron

    • #6
      Bernard Fernandez says "Gotta wonder, does Eric "Butterbean" Esch's four-fight series with Kenny "The Raven" Craven stack up with the four-pack of Pacquiao vs. Marquez? Given the trend away from extended multi-part series, so common in boxing's good old days, trilogies have kind of become the equivalent of LP records, not that anyone plays records anymore. For two guys to go at one another four times in the not-so-distant past is definitely cool. And it's not likely to happen much going forward. If I am allowed to put words into Kenny Craven's mouth, "Quote The Raven, nevermore."


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        Back in my day, trilogies were expected if fighters split the first two. It was almost automatic. Later, I recall the Marquez-Vazquez 4-fight one that destroyed Vázquez's eyes. Brutal stuff. Not many since then.

        Some interesting trilogies

        Arturo Gatti vs Micky Ward. ...
        “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran. ...
        Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier. ...
        Marco Antonio Barrera vs Erik Morales. ...
        Ingemar Johansson vs Floyd Patterson.
        Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield
        Michael Carbajal-Humberto Gonzalez
        Emile Griffith-Benny Paret
        Tony Zale-Rocky Graziano
        Haugen vs. Paz
        George Colton vs. Jimmy Connors
        Norm Gautreal vs. Keith Paris
        Keith Paris vs. Len Sparks
        Keith Paris vs. Red Graham

        Monaco vs. Lemos
        Rafael Marquez vs Israel Vazquez Quadrilogy
        Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Gene Fullmer Quadrilogy
        Bobby Chacon vs. Rafael Limon Quadrilogy
        Azumah Nelson vs. Jesse James Leija Quadrilogy
        Pep v. Saddler
        Layla McCarter vs. Melissa Hernandez

        Ezzard Charles engaged in several multiple fights including at least three against Lloyd Marshall and Archie Moore.. And four against Jersey Joe Walcott.

        Henry Armstrong engaged in a five-fight encounter with Baby Arizmendi. So did Buck Smith against Reggie Strickland.

        LaMotta fought SRR 6 times.
        Melissa Hernandez vs .Jelena Mrdjenovich
        Layla McCarter vs. Jelena Mrdjenovich

        Henceforth. this comment page can be used for research. Maybe you can add to it.
        Last edited by Kid Blast; 05-16-2021, 01:29 PM.

      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        Johnny Tango says, "Reading these comments has definitely been an education in boxing for me. Wow!" I sure wish he cold figure out how to get on the site.

    • #7
      I agree. Nady stopped it on Craven but he wasn’t hurt.

      No mean feat.


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        Nady is weird. I hate that salute crap. The fight is not about him. The fight is about the combatants. Referees with gimmicks don't do it for me.

      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        This just in from a well-known boxing person who shall remain anonymous: "This is great stuff Ted. ...I witnessed Rose upset. Bean was always a gentleman in our meetings. Don’t think I ever met Craven, but obviously he shares my view of humanity. Thanks for shining your light on them."
        Last edited by Kid Blast; 05-04-2021, 07:54 AM.

    • #8
      J huh?



      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        not JL. ...................

    • #9
      Butterbean woulda been the HW champ of the 1895. Yes, I said it. He'd beat the thongs off fancy boy Corbett, pulverize Jeffries, and Bolivianize Fitzsimmons. Maybe Jack Johnson coulda beat him...MAYBE. Johnson couldn't muscle the Bean around like the little guys he fought.

      The Bean was ahead of his time. Or should I say was a stomach ahead of his time?


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        "Thank you Ted! I remember Rose beating Bean. I had forgotten about the 4 bouts split between Craven and Bean. And that Etienne v Craven fight is a great story as well. This stuff is part of what makes boxing great. Thank you for a great article." Rick Gagne

    • #10
      That made me lol (twice) because it’s probably true!

      And Buster Douglas aughta be in the boxing hall of fame.

      There, I said it, 🗣🔥