Wednesday, Jul 12 2017

‘The Bonecrusher’ Errol Zimmerman is pound-for-pound one of the hardest-hitting combatants in all of fight sports. Of one hundred career wins, he has earned 41 of them by KO.

On Saturday night the 27-year-old will face another big-hitter. Hesdy Gerges (42-12-1, 19 KO’s) is the former heavyweight champion of Its Showtime, the European organization which was bought out by GLORY last year.

Zimmerman (42-12-1, 19 KO’s) is a fighter who by rights should be more famous than he is. His knockout power is a force of nature. But as he says himself, his strength has also previously been his weakness.

With so much power at his disposal, Zimmerman often found himself swapping the training room for the nightclub. It meant losses on his record that have no business being there.

Now that he’s fighting in GLORY’s heavyweight division, Zimmerman is a new man. There are no easy fights in GLORY and he knows it. Training has taken over his life, along with diet and nutrition. He is nearly 20lbs (9kg) lighter than he used to be and seems to be in great shape. Saturday night looks like it will be explosive.

“Hesdy Gerges is a tough fight. It’s a big fight because it’s on Spike TV in front of a big audience so I am going to show my best,” he says.  “I heard Hesdy wanted to fight me for a long time now so, good for him, I am going to beat him up on Saturday. He and everybody else is gonna see ‘the Bonecrusher’ power.”

“He’s a tough guy., I like these kind of guys, like Badr Hari he comes forward and he comes to fight. I do the same and this is what people want to see. We are going to put on a good show.

“You won’t ever see us have some fight where it’s like ‘hey man, high five, lets touch gloves’. No, never. We are going to bring the action. Let’s do it man. Two big guys. Two killers in the ring.”

Zimmerman’s strengths are obvious, but he is surprisingly honest when the conversation turns to his own weaknesses, especially when he is accused of being lazy about his training.

“It’s the right hand man. It’s the right hand.” he says, looking directly at the hand which has simultaneously built his career and undermined parts of it.  “In the old days maybe it was even a problem for me because I could turn up and knock people out without training.

“There were times I had a fight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and won all three by KO. So that made me think ‘well, I can skip training today, tomorrow, it doesn’t matter because I have this weapon. Go partying.’

“But I was young. Now on this GLORY level you have to understand that if you miss one day’s training, you lose in the third round. Miss two days training, you lose in the second round, you know? So now I work really hard, I have good conditioning, my body is hard.

“I take it very seriously. I am at another level. I love fighting and I don’t want to lose, but sometimes I would lose fights because of conditioning or fitness. It’s stupid. Never again. Right now I am about 107 kilos, I lost about nine kilos.”

Zimmerman has clearly done a lot of self-analysis at some point. He talks about his “other problem” - the killer instinct which makes him want to take that thunderous right hand and put people down with it.

“My other mistake is like in my last fight, with Rico Verhoeven. My strength is my weakness - because I want to knock people out and I can knock people out, I only go forwards. All the time trying to knock the guy out. The other guy moves around making points while I chase after him,” he says.

“So it’s another lesson I’ve had to learn. Not that I would ever be a guy who would go out there and play for points, but you need to be versatile. If Plan A is not working I need a Plan B.

“And the knockouts will come anyway, because even when I am scoring points I can knock you out.”

Zimmerman’s life story is like a movie script. There isn’t space for it all here but, in regards to fighting, one aspect of it is particularly amazing. At 13 years old he was knocking opponents and training partners out. A few years later he had to sneak into the adult leagues to get fights.

“I started to fight when I was 13 and then when I was 15 I pretended I was 18 years old so that I could fight with the adults. Because it was hard to get opponents my own age, I was pretty big and I was knocking people out so nobody wanted to fight me,” he says.

“So I said, f--k it, I lied about my age and experience so that I could fight at A-class, which is the top level in Holland, no shin guards or nothing. And I started knocking people out who were 26, 30 years old. “

Now, this Saturday live on Spike TV, his career could enter a new chapter. Zimmerman is a fighter who should be much more well-known than he is. But if he scores one of his signature huge knockouts on a show which is available in nearly 100 million US homes, a star will be born and past errors of judgment will be irrelevant.

The fight with Gerges is a tournament reserve fight. Zimmerman has mixed feelings about it. On the one hand he wants to get into the tournament, on the other he doesn’t want to have to fight lifelong friend Gokhan Saki, the world #2.

“My prediction is that I will come in the tournament and I will win it, ha!” he laughs. “I cross my fingers that somebody breaks his arm and can’t take part. Not because of bad feeling, just strictly business. I want that money.

But Saki… ah, Saki is like my brother. He is my brother. But if I come in the tournament and we have to fight then, may the best man win. But my mother hates this idea. His father hates it also. They really don’t want to see us fight each other.

“My mother speaks with Saki often, I speak with Saki’s family often. We have known each other since we were small boys and our parents know each other also. We grew up together.

“But I always say that if we have to fight, it would have to be for the championship. Then it would be OK because we would do a good show and we would both be winners really.

“But it’s only worth it for the tournament final or for the title. Nothing else. If there was any other time they called me and said ‘Hey, you want to fight Saki?’ I would say ‘No, he is my brother, find someone else. I cannot fight my brother.’”

GLORY 11 CHICAGO takes place this Saturday at the Sears Centre Arena, Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The show airs live on Spike TV in the US and will be broadcast in over 170 territories worldwide.

As well as the GLORY 11 Heavyweight Championship Tournament, the event also features bouts in the GLORY Superfight Series which will air at a later date.