Out of custody, heavyweight Ike Ibeabuchi plans comeback at 43

Kevin Iole
Boxing
Heavyweight Ike Ibeabuchi in 1999 (Getty Images)

YOUNG IKE

Heavyweight Ike Ibeabuchi in 1999 (Getty Images)

Ike Ibeabuchi was once one of boxing's greatest championship prospects, a massive heavyweight with quickness and incredible punching power. The Nigerian was 20-0 with 15 knockouts while competing from 1994 through March 20, 1999, and had notable victories over David Tua and Chris Byrd.

But Ibeabuchi had numerous legal issues and on July 22, 1999, he was accused of sexually assaulting a dancer he'd hired to come to his room at a hotel in Las Vegas.

On Nov. 8, 2001, Ibeabuchi submitted an Alford plea on charges of battery with intent to commit a crime and attempted sexual assault. An Alford plea is one in which the defendant does not admit the charges, but concedes it is likely the prosecutiion has enough evidence that it is likely he would be found guilty.

Ibeabuchi received sentences of two to 10 years for the battery conviction and three to 20 years on the attempted sexual assault charge. A judge ruled the convinctions would be served consecutively.

He was released by the Nevada prison system on Feb. 28, 2014, but was handed to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, which detained him in Eloy, Ariz. He was released from custody by ICE in November.

Ibeabuchi contacted Yahoo Sports by telephone on Christmas and said he hoped to fight on the planned Manny Pacquiao card on April 9 in Las Vegas. He's hired Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's adviser, to lead his career. Koncz told Yahoo Sports that Ibeabuchi has his blessing to be on the undercard.

Ike Ibeabuchi, show in a recent photo taken after his release from custody last month, wants to resume his boxing career. (Special to Yahoo Sports)
Ike Ibeabuchi, show in a recent photo taken after his release from custody last month, wants to resume his boxing career. (Special to Yahoo Sports)

Pacquiao has not announced an opponent, but is choosing from a group of fighters that includes Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan and Adrien Broner.

"[Ibeabuchi] has served his time and wants to improve himself and Manny feels that since he's served his term and is trying to turn his life around, he deserves a second chance," Koncz said.

Ibeabuchi, who earned two Associate's degrees while in prison, faces significant hurdles in order to be licensed to fight again. To begin with, it will be more than 17 years between fights for him if he follows through with his attempt to fight on April 9. His last appearance in the ring was on March 20, 1999, when he knocked Byrd down twice and stopped him in the fifth round in an HBO-televised bout in Tacoma, Wash.

Ibeabuchi, who is 6-foot-2, said he weighs 245 pounds. He insisted he is healthy and prepared to compete at the highest level of the sport.

"I am definitely in shape and I understand I would have to prove this," he said. "I need to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world and I understand that I will have to prove myself worthy. Any of the tests that would be required of me, an EKG, an MRI, an EEG, those kinds of tests, X-rays, things that would be required to obtain a boxing license, were done while I was incarcerated. But I am willing to cooperate and do whatever so that I may obtain my boxing [license] and appear on this card in Las Vegas."

What to Read Next