25 Years On – Looking Back At The Great Ike Ibeabuchi Vs. David Tua Slugfest

When we look back at their respective talents, it’s pretty surprising to think that neither Ike Ibeabuchi nor David Tua managed to claim even a version of the world heavyweight title. Both fighters had it all, or they seemed to have it all: agility, conditioning, durability, cracking fist power, a big chin, and a ton of desire. When Ibeabuchi and Tua collided in Sacramento, California on June 7, 1997, fans received an unexpected, instant classic.

Ibeabuchi was 16-0 (12) however he was much less well known than Tua, who was also perfect at 27-0 (23). Tua crashed his way onto the world stage with striking knockout victories over John Ruiz, David Izon, and Oleg Maskaev. Some people called the Samoan batsman with the middle left hook “the next Rocky Marciano, the next Mike Tyson.”

Ike, acclaimed from Nigeria and now based in Dallas, Texas, beat the usual suspects (Marion Wilson, Anthony Wade, Calvin Jones) however he did not set anyone on fire with excitement to do so. It turned out that Ibeabuchi would have his exit party with the battle / war / slugfest against Tua.

These two heavyweights, both approaching their peak, both men in top shape, wanting to go through anything to reach the other side and pick up the win, gave us a heavyweight who set records and set an expert. fans and experts in tizzy. It was a non-stop action, hammer-and-tweezers style, from round one to the final bell. And despite their best efforts, no one could ever put a hole in the other. It was such a battle where, looking at it, moved by it, the thought that both men were giving too much raised its head in the mind of the spectator.

It turned out that Ibeabuchi, who won by unanimous decision – 115-114, 116-113 and too wide 117-111 – gave too much to his brain the victim of a trauma that was not caught on some scans. After his 12 rounds of hell with Tua – rounds, and rounds of hot two-way action, both chin tested to the MAX, wild trade exchanges to die, bowel check after bowel pass passed – Ike started complaining of headaches. Nothing was found by MRI scans, however Ike would never be the same fighter, or human, again.

Shortly after the biggest win of his career, Ibeabuchi began “hearing voices coming from the air conditioner,” he was “followed by demons and evil spirits.”

Sometimes it may be better to be beaten in battle, rather than put your brain through the kind of trauma Ike made his way through by taking everything by which Tua was able to beat it for 36 brutal minutes. Shortly after the fight 25 years ago, Ibeabuchi went completely insane and he was later arrested for doing all sorts of unspeakable things to a prostitute in Las Vegas; the soon-to-be ex-fighter was jailed not too long after his 1999 KO by Chris Byrd (the KO scary to watch).

Tua struggled for a number of years, reaching up to challenging Lennox Lewis for the 2000 world championship, Tua going down heavily in points. Again, it’s amazing to think and Tua and Ibeabuchi never realized their full potential. Ibeabuchi fell short due to the inner demons of which he became the victim after his victory over Tua, while Tua, although he kept it together after the hard loss, may have been an unlucky fighter (some of the men Tua took out went on to win. World title ; the above-mentioned Ruiz most notably).

But going back to the magic that Ibeabuchi and Tua gave us a quarter of a century ago, nothing can ever diminish the spectacle, the full war that these two have pumped out for us and for their sport. Throughout the long history of heavyweight boxing, fights such as Ali-Frazier, I and III, Bowe-Holyfield I, Dempsey-Firpo, Foreman-Lyle, Holmes-Norton, and more recently, Fury-Wilder III, are ranked as the best of the best.

Take a look at the war that Ibeabuchi and Tua engaged in again in 1997, and you will notice that their battle deserves to be lined up up there with one of them.

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