It was a clash of unbeaten heavyweight bangers. Sluggers. Raw, hard punchers. Two men who knew how to inflict hurt, damage……pain. And both guys could take it as well as dish it out. It was on this day back in 1997, when heavyweight juggernauts Ike Ibeabuchi and David Tua collided in what might well have resulted in the greatest-ever combo of, not only Immovable Object Vs. Unstoppable Force, but Immovable Force Vs. Unstoppable Object.

Indeed, both men could file a description act as either, as both.

Tua was an all-out wrecking machine – the Samoan bringing an impressive and quite chilling 27-0(23) record to the party. Ibeabuchi was a real force of nature – the Nigerian sporting a 16-0(12) ledger as he stepped between the ropes with a desire to inflict God knows what damage on his foe.

Together, these two finally-conditioned, starving hungry, rock-chinned power-punchers went to war for our entertainment as well as their own ring futures. To this day, we fans owe Ike and David a debt of thanks, while it must be recognised that neither man was ever the same after what they put each other through inside the Arco Arena in Sacramento; Ibeabuchi especially.

For 36 beautiful, thrilling, and brutal minutes, Ibeabuchi and Tua traded bombs, they checked each other’s heart, chin and desire. It was punch-for-punch stuff all the way. Neither man tired, neither man was willing to yield, and neither man backed off, much less fall. After 12 of the greatest heavyweight rounds seen since the epic (and damaging) Thrilla in Manila of 1975, had fans been taken so deep as they watched two big men willing to die to win.

Ibeabuchi got the nod, yet the fight could so easily have been scored a Tua win, or a draw. And then came the aftermath.

Ibeabuchi, now a real and absolute player in the heavyweight division, complained of severe headaches after the fight, so bad were the head pains that he was hospitalised. Ibeabuchi soon fell into crazy mode, the heavyweight terror sharing with those close to him how he was being “chased by demons,” how he could “hear voices in the air-conditioning.”

In short, Ike had lost it. We will never know if the hefty head shots Tua landed with regularity during the greatest fight of the 1990s was responsible, but Ike soon fell apart completely; with him being jailed after doing unspeakable things to a call-girl in Las Vegas in the summer of 1999.

It was over for Ibeabuchi, this – ever so tantalisingly – as it was just getting going. To this day, fight fans wonder how far Ibeabuchi might have gone had he not imploded. Ike did look to be the complete package – and how much time have so many of us wondered what would have happened had Ibeabuchi fought stars like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis!

For Tua, it was initial comeback phase after his losing of the “0.” Tua went on to do close to great things – see his crushing wins over Hasim Rahman, Obed Sullivan, Michael Moorer – but “The Tuaman” never won a world title. Instead, in his sole shot at gold, Tua was decisioned by Lewis.

But together, no matter what followed their epic fight/war/compu-box- smashing slugfest, Ibeabuchi and Tua will forever be remembered, and celebrated, for what they did 27 years ago today.

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