The best of all time A to Z: Ibeabuchi
This is the ninth in a 26-part series in which RingTV.com endeavors to name the best boxers of all time based on last name – A to Z. We’ll post one letter each day for 26 days. Our criteria in making the selections were fairly simple: Accomplishments in the ring, with heavy emphasis on strength of opposition, as well as impact on the sport. This wasn’t easy, as our first installment — the letter “A” (Armstrong vs. Ali) — demonstrates. However, we’re confident that our choices are arguably the best. We also are including five more fighters for each letter to indicate others that were considered. Also, noted author and boxing historian Bert Sugar — who provided input — tells us where he ranks our choices among the greatest fighters pound-for-pound and gives us a thought on each selection. And, finally, we’d love to get your thoughts on the project. Here goes ÔÇª today’s letter: “I.”
I: IKE IBEABUCHI
Hometown: Isuochi, Nigeria
Record: 20-0 (15 KOs)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Sugar’s ranking: None
The thought process: We’ll never know what Ike Ibeabuchi might’ve accomplished in the ring. The Nigerian-born resident of Dallas, an imposing figure at 6-foot-2 and about 235 pounds, was climbing the heavyweight rankings in the late ’90s and seemed destined to become the next star in the sport’s one-time glamour division. He outslugged a prime and then-unbeaten David Tua to win a unanimous decision in 1997, setting a then-record of 975 punches by a heavyweight in the process. And, in 1999, he became the first to knock out slick Chris Byrd. Little did anyone know at the time that that was his final fight. Ibeabuchi’s inner demons began to overwhelm him shortly after he beat Tua, causing erratic behavior, and culminated when he was convicted of attempted sexual assault and battery with intent to commit a crime involving a prostitute in his hotel room in Las Vegas. He was sentenced to five to 30 years in prison and has been denied parole several times. He reportedly will be eligible for parole again in 2012, when he’ll be 39. That’s not necessarily too old to return to boxing but he certainly wouldn’t be the fighter he was. That fighter was replaced by a troubled soul, which is one of boxing’s saddest stories. Luis Ibarra, Hiroki Ioka, Guts Ishimatsu and Johnny Indrisano would’ve been acceptable choices here. Ibarra, Ioka and Ishimatsu were all titleholders. Indrisano was a skillfull, but light-punching welterweight who twice beat Hall of Famer Lou Brouillard and other top fighters of his time. He later became a boxing official in California.
Five more (alphabetical order): Luis Ibarra, Johnny Indrisano, Hiroki Ioka, Guts Ishimatsu and Bobby Ivy.