Chances are pretty good that, if you asked a fight fan to name a hugely talented heavyweight of the last 20 or 30 years who never went as far as their considerable talents made it look as though they would go, the name Ike Ibeabuchi would pop right up. Ibeabuchi, who thrilled fans with his slugfest of a win over an unbeaten David Tua and who then scored a genuinely scary KO over a slick Chris Byrd, seemed to be the whole package.
Athletic, powerful, in great shape with stamina to burn, Ibeabuchi also had a rock for a chin and fine fundamentals. Indeed, the Nigerian warrior did seem to have it all. Everything aside from a sound mind. We all know the Ibeabuchi story; how he has to his name, unfortunately, a long list of crimes and misdemeanours. Crimes Ike was jailed for just as he was closing in on a shot at the world title. After 20 fights, all wins, Ibeabuchi’s boxing career was over.
Today, “The President,” as Ike insisted on being called, turns 50 years of age. Ibeabuchi’s legacy is that of a fighter who was never permitted to achieve all that he could (this his own fault). His career incomplete, this apparent future champion was destined to have a massive ‘what if?’ placed alongside his name by fight writers.
However, just six or seven months ago, Ibeabuchi gave an interview in which he said he was going to be fighting again (you may have seen the piece right here on ESB). Ibeabuchi, who had been released from prion in 2015, said he was around 259 pounds, and he was now determined to ‘do a George Foreman’ and win the title at age 50.
Since the June interview, we’ve heard nothing. Ibeabuchi, who has been in and out of custody since his 2015 release, may well have been deported since the time of the interview. We don’t know. But wherever he is, Ibeabuchi may still be harbouring ideas of fighting again. However, as time goes by, the comeback that so seemed to fascinate a good bunch of people, looks less and less likely to happen. And maybe it’s a good thing.
Ibeabuchi has not boxed since March of 1999; meaning an idle spell of some 24 years would have to be snapped if Ike did return to the ring this year. No, it seems certain we will have to review Ibeabuchi’s great fights, the Tua and Byrd wins being by far and away his most impressive as well as important, if we have an urge to see him fight again.
Ibeabuchi did seem to have the tools needed to not only become a world champion but to perhaps enjoy a substantial reign of terror. But the inner demons were too much. Wherever he is today on the occasion of his 50th birthday, let’s hope Ike Ibeabuchi has been exorcised of the demons that so consumed him and his wonderfully promising boxing career.