“The President” Ike Ibeabuchi - The One That Got (Put) Away

By James Slater: How great could Nigerian powerhouse Ikemefula Charles Ibeabuchi have become had he not lost the plot and got himself put away for the charge of attempted rape (in Las Vegas in 2009)? We will of course never know, but fans still talk, while somewhat in awe, about the man better known as Ike Ibeabuchi and his hugely impressive wins.

After going hammer and tongs with fellow juggernaut of a puncher David Tua in the summer of 1997 (a 12-round UD for “The President”), the 24-year-old Ibeabuchi proceeded to ice the then undefeated Chris Byrd via scary-looking 5th-round TKO (Byrd was so concussed he did not even know he’d been knocked out). The path looked to be a golden one for this always-sought after commodity: a heavyweight puncher who also possessed a rock chin, good speed and excellent conditioning.

Alas, the mentally troubled giant soon strayed off the right path and wound up languishing in a prison cell, his considerable fighting talents left to erode; his body given no chance but to pile on excess weight. Three unsuccessful parole applications have followed the conviction, and Ibeabuchi is next up before the parole board he hopes will set him free in May of this year. Ibeabuchi is now 39-years-old and reported to be anywhere from 290 to 320-pounds.

Yet as unlikely as it is that Ibeabuchi will ever fight again, or even if he does that he will be able to get anywhere close to where he once stood on the world’s stage, fans are still fascinated by the Nigerian. That’s what happens when a shining talent is disallowed from reaching its full potential.

Had he carried on fighting, training and keeping himself on the straight and narrow, Ibeabuchi would have been right in the running for a big fight with either a Lennox Lewis, a Mike Tyson or maybe a Hasim Rahman type of guy. I for one think Ike would have had a great shot at beating Lewis and Tyson, while I think he would have damned near decapitated Rahman!

Maybe, still believing as he is that it is his destiny to wear the world heavyweight crown, Ibeabuchi will, if released, attempt a “George Foreman,” and get back in the gym, and then the ring, whilst pushing the age of 40. Crazier things have happened - just ask Mr. Ibeabuchi.

20-0(15) was the record Ibeabuchi boasted when he lost his marbles, and at a well conditioned 235-pounds, the 6’2” heavyweight with the 76” reach had pretty much mastered the art of infighting. Having the look of a fighter who was both immovable object AND unstoppable force, Ibeabuchi would have taken some putting away, that’s for sure (no pun intended).

In heavyweight boxing’s long list of what ifs? the case of the unfulfilled promise shown by Ike Ibeabuchi has to rank as the most tantalising.

Article posted on 12.04.2012

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