The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
|Ike Ibeabuchi Interview: Francis Walker|
July 11, 1999 Ibeabuchi: "I Do My Talking Inside The Ring." Having defeated young heavyweights David Tua (W 12) and Chris Byrd (KO 4), both respectively ranked No. 1 and No. 7 in the International Boxing Federation, undefeated No. 2 contender, Ike Ibeabuchi ( 20-0, 15KOs) has emerged as one of boxing's hottest attractions. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with the 26-year-old Nigerian of Africa about his most recent victory over Byrd and his status in the heavyweight division.
Ibeabuchi, who was said to have a nasty temper outside the ring, was rather calm and happy about the attention he received from the boxing community as of late. As of press time, Ibeabuchi, who kayoed Byrd on an HBO show in Tacoma, Washington on March 20, the week after the controversial "Fix" between Holyfield-Lewis, is on course to meeting Mike Grant on November 6. Providing that Ibeabuchi-Grant, who did not look impressive in his points win over Lou Savarese (W 10) on June 26, will emerge as the "People's Mandatory Challenger."
Francis Walker: Firstly, congratulations on your stunning kayo of Chris Byrd last March. You defeated a fighter, one of the best young heavyweights in the world, that no one wanted to fight. Having defeated Byrd and another young heavyweight David Tua, both of whom were undefeated, what is next for Ike Ibeabuchi?
Ike Ibeabuchi: "You said that the best was Chris Byrd, and I beat him the way I did. What is next? Fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world."
FW: You're ranked No. 2 in the world by the International Boxing Federation. Have there been an attempt to make negotiation with either Evander Holyfield or Lennox Lewis?
Ibeabuchi: "I am waiting for the masses, the writers to do their job. When you make this happen...."
Stephen Munisteri: "They won't fight him right now."
FW: So your just waiting on the media to press the issue that "Ike Ibeabuchi is the hottest thing out today." Recently, you made a brilliant move by making a live appearance on ESPN 2's "Friday Night Fights." However, Teddy Atlas, a staff correspondent and current trainer for young heavyweight Kirk Johnson, got into a verbal exchange. What was that all about?
Ibeabuchi: "I don't know, but I feel that he probably wants me to fight the best fighters. Its not a bad idea. Hey, when you are ready, you are ready! What is next?"
FW: What do you think of Mike Grant?
Ibeabuchi: "He's an undefeated fighter. He has a going for him because of the crowd and the support. Not other fighters have that. I believe in action, I believe in what I could do in the ring."
FW: Grant's trainer, Don Turner, who also trains Holyfield, says that Ibeabuchi is too small for Grant.
Ibeabuchi: "He could be right because of size (Grant 6' 7," Ibeabuchi 6' 2") But here.... Size don't matter. I really don't care. He's a heavyweight, I'm a heavyweight. I weigh 245, he weighs 250. If I hit you, I could life you up with this power. It does not matter."
FW: You seem to be a very gentle and soft-spoken individual. The temper they speak of remains unseen.
Ibeabuchi: "I believe in making my name in the ring - not outside! The type of life I live outside the ring has nothing to do with my fight game. I tend to put all the focus, all the energy there."
FW: Your fight game is indeed something to talk about. You look as though you seek to destroy everything in sight.
Ibeabuchi: "When I say I'm ready, I'm ready. I get physically ready, mentally ready, and spiritually ready. Fighters can say whatever. Managers can say anything they want. That ain't got nothing to do with me. I do my talking inside the ring."
FW: Holyfield-Lewis I...... Did the draw hurt boxing?
Ibeabuchi: "The rematch will do good!"
FW: Do you think the rematch will do better than the first fight? If you think about it, just look at Evander Holyfield's career. He's had a number of wars: Two with Mike Tyson, two with Michael Moorer, and the trilogy with Bowe. However, against Vaughn Bean and Lewis, he has showed nothing.
Ibeabuchi: "Even if the rematch is bad, give a lot of credit to Holyfield. He's got nothing to prove to anyone, anymore. He has ruled the cruiserweights and stepped in as a heavyweight and rule too, so if I were him I would retire. The fact is that there is something in them that makes them feel they can do this forever. You know?"
FW: Unlike other sports such as baseball, basketball, and football - boxing is the only sports which the athletes, the fighters, the gladiators, and the warriors feel as though they can fight forever. It could be clear that a fighter should retire, but the is something special inside them that makes them feel they can continue doing this. Which leads me to my next question..... How long do you intend to stay in this business?
Ibeabuchi: Well, I'm happy you call it business. Business is where if it don't suite you, you leave. That's all I can say about that."
FW: When will we see you again?
Ibeabuchi: "Ha, Ha, Ha.... (Laughing)!
Munisteri: "First week in November. There is some talk of Kirk Johnson. There are certain minimums. He's gotta be a top-10 guy. They gotta be able to come-up with the money."
FW: I'm sure HBO would love to have Ibeabuchi again. After all, he did them a favor, knocking out a guy who was unpopular because of his crafty, but unexciting style. No disrespect, but that is reality.
Munisteri: "Chris Byrd can still beat most heavyweight out there, but there is an appreciation for dollar bills. The dollar bill shave to be correct. They haven't showed us yet, but when they do we'll be there."
And so will myself and the thousands of fight fans awaiting Ibeabuchi's return.
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