The date was June 7th 1997, at the Arco arena in Sacramento California, United States. Two undefeated prospects faced each other. On one corner stood a Samoan born fighter David Tua who was the betting favorite, Short, stout and undefeated he was being hyped as the next Mike Tyson.
On the other corner stood Ike Ibeabuchi a Nigerian born fighter nicknamed the “President”, until this point previously unknown, weighing about 240 pounds and standing at 6ft2 he was indeed a heavyweight specimen.
By the end of the fight, records and bones had been broken Tua had surgery a week later to remove bone chips from his left elbow. Ibeabuchi set the Individual record for the most punches thrown in a fight by a heavyweight with 975 punches with an average of 81 per round. A heavyweight normally averages at around 50 per round. Both fighters also set a combined record for the most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight with 1,730 punches thrown, The fight was voted “Fight of the month”.
Ike Ibeabuchi won that fight by unanimous decision; the world had been introduced to a man deemed as the definition of a Zulu warrior. He had it all – Speed, Endurance, Power, Physique and a great chin. After beating other notable fighters such as future world champion Chris Byrd, Ibeabuchi was well on his way to super stardom and becoming one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Nigeria and Africa. Boxing pundits and analysts got excited and began comparing him to boxing greats such as Tyson and Foreman. Holyfield and Lennox Lewis who were champions at the time were already being pressured to face Ibeabuchi.
But all that was about to change, Ibeabuchi began to complain of serious headaches after his fight with Tua, he was taken to the hospital where he underwent an MRI scan but nothing was identified as a problem. Soon after, Ike began to hear voices and started acting irrational.
Displaying signs of schizophrenia the once promising fighter began to have numerous run ins with the law. Disturbingly enough, he attributed his irrational behavior to evil demons and spirits. In a meeting with HBO officials on a financial deal for his next fight, Ike wielded a knife in front of the officials ranting senseless sentences which contained a combination of paranoia and delusion.
Fast-forward to 2013, Ike Ibeabuchi currently sits in a prison cell at the Lovelock correctional center in Lovelock,Nevada. He has been incarcerated since 2001 stemming from an attempted sexual assault on a Las Vegas call girl in 1999. According to the call girl, she was contracted only to strip for Ibeabuchi and he “attacked” by trying to initiate sexual intercourse with her when she asked to be paid upfront.
Ike is serving a 2-10 year sentence and a consecutive 3-20 year sentence and he has been denied parole more than 3 times. He was eligible for parole last month (May 2013) details on the results of that parole hearing are yet to be released to the public. In his time in prison he has earned two college degrees and a considerable amount of facial hair and body fat. Ibeabuchi was 26years old at the time of his conviction if he is released this year he will be 40years old and facing likely deportation to Nigeria.
Some people hope that he gets released this year so that he can continue to compete as a boxer. The question on the lips of most boxing fans are ” if he can be able to become world champion at 40 with up to 14 years of ring rust? “.
However the more important question should be why Ike Ibeabuchi has been locked up for so long? 14years for attempted sexual assault whilst Mike Tyson (my favorite boxer) who was convicted of rape only served 3 and a half years?
I love Mike Tyson and i personally believe that he was innocent. But the fact still stands that he was convicted for rape and he only served 3.5years.
Ibeabuchi’s offence is wrong and that behavior is not accepted anywhere in the world, But hasn’t he paid his dues? 14years is a lot of time. Why punish one of Africa’s greatest prospects? He has already been robbed of his youth and prime. Give this Nigerian hero a break. Iam sure he regrets the actions he took in the hotel room in Las Vegas.
So the question remains, How long will he be locked up for? And can he (if released anytime between now and 2014) become world champion at his age?
There is a lesson to be learnt here, whatever you do, do not put yourself in a position where you stand a chance of being mistreated.