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Boxing cult hero looks unrecognisable in throwback snap with long flowing locks

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A former heavyweight boxer has stunned fans by looking unrecognisable in a brilliant old photo.

The sport’s blue-riband division was thriving in the 1990s and early 2000s with the likes of Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson.

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Eric Esch, known as Butterbean, was a fan-favourite heavyweightCredit: Getty
He was a hard-hitting fighter with a KO ratio of 63 per cent

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He was a hard-hitting fighter with a KO ratio of 63 per centCredit: AFP

But one man who gained a cult following for his short, stocky physique was American Eric Esch – better known as Butterbean.

Standing at 5ft 11 1/2in, the large bald heavyweight never won a version of the world title.

But that did not stop fans flocking to support the unconventionally-built fighter – who came up short against the legendary Larry Holmes in 2002.

Now he has caught the public’s attention once more – a decade after hanging up the gloves.

Butterbean shared an old photo from back in the day which showed him with long, blonde hair and dungarees.

And he added the hilarious caption: “Me in high school. Yes I had hair.”

Reacting to the image, one fan said: “Who would’ve thought that this guy would turn out to be the heaviest hitter in boxing history next to Mike Tyson himself.”

While another added: “Now imagine him fighting with that hair!”

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Butterbean shared this brilliant picture on his social media

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Butterbean shared this brilliant picture on his social mediaCredit: Instagram @butterbeanboxer

Butterbean retired from professional boxing with a record of 77 wins, 10 defeats and four draws.

He was linked with a return to the ring in 2021 when Tyson was looking for an opponent to face in an exhibition bout.

And before Iron Mike landed on Roy Jones Jr, Butterbean came out to quash the rumours.

Speaking to Fred Talks Fighting, he said: “No! I’m totally retired.

“There’s a lot of talk about me being in that fight with Tyson, [it] was all actually offered to me [as] an exhibition.

“But I know when it’s time, I know I’m old, I’ve got grandkids, I’ve got nine grandkids.

“I’m just enjoying my life right now.”

Butterbean came up short in his pursuit of a world title

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Butterbean came up short in his pursuit of a world titleCredit: AFP

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