By Scoop Malinowski
I asked the retired former heavyweight contender and 1992 Olympic bronze medalist David Tua for his thoughts on Ike Ibeabuchi, the man he battled in a fierce twelve round battle in 1997…
“He had a good chin. He could take some good shots. And he wasn’t shy to mix it up.”
Years ago I recall Chris Byrd saying Ibeabuchi was also intelligent, which Tua confirmed. “Yeah, he was a very, very smart fighter. He would throw punches from angles, movements. I think he was pretty much the whole thing, a complete fighter. He didn’t just rely on the left hook or right hand, he gave a lot of different looks. It just so happened that my will – and I kept the faith throughout the fight. And I came prepared for that fight as well.”
Tua lost a close decision to Ibeabuchi in a Punchstat record breaking heavyweight fight broadcast by HBO, which cost him his WBC International title, but he accepts the verdict. “I thought I had done enough to win. When you’re fighting the champion, respect to that, it’s almost like you have to get it. I think I learned a lot from that fight.”
When asked about a Lennox Lewis vs Ike Ibeabuchi showdown, Tua didn’t waver or duck the question…
“I’ll probably have to give it to Ike. Not only was he a good boxer, he was a fighter/brawler as well. Lewis was the same thing. I think, respectfully, I would have to give Ike the edge. But, you know, to say the least, Lennox was a great athlete. I learned a lot from him.”
When I asked for his thoughts on Mike Tyson, Tua’s enthusiasm lit up. “He’s an awesome human being and I always wanted to meet him. I met him once at the weigh-in of the Orlin Norris fight in Las Vegas. That was the first and the last. He was bending over tying his shoe and he looked up at me and gave a kind of smile. That was it. It was awesome.”
Tua was a pro boxer from 1992-2013. His knockout power, particularly the left hook, resulted in 16 first round knockout wins. In 2000 he lost a wide decision to WBC/IBF/IBO champion Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas. Tua was never stopped in a fight and finished boxing with a record of 52-5-2 (43 KO’s).
Now 50 years old, Tua retired from boxing after losing a 12 round decision to Alexander Ustinov in New Zealand in 2013.