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Ranking the best Nigerian boxers of all time


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Yes, I am back after over a year with ANOTHER of these threads! I remembered I had forgotten to cover an African nation who was one of the strongest in boxing, after Ghana and South Africa, and who also has most world champions after those two-Nigeria! Unfortunately, some of their best amateurs failed to translate their success to pro boxing, but still, Nigeria can boast to having perhaps the greatest African boxer of all times-Dick Tiger. Of other older fighters, there was also Hogan Bassey, who held the world featherweight title for a while before losing it valiantly to Davey Moore. In newer times, we had Herbie Hide (qualifies as a Nigerian even tho he fought out of UK), his contemporary Henry Akinwande (same thing), Ike Ibeabuchi and Samuel Peter, who was briefly the WBC heavyweight champion. OK then, here we go.

 

1. Dick Tiger

 

Of course, he has to be at no.1. Richard Ihetu, as his real name was, was an amazingly strong fighter for a 5'8 natural middleweight, and also very cagey and skillful. He turned pro in 1952 and at first had a rather rocky career, but eventually he grew into a successful world-class boxer. He won his first world title 10 years after turning pro, by beating Gene Fullmer by UD 15 for the vacant WBA middle title. He drew against Fullmer in the rematch and then won their third fight as well by corner retirement after 7 rounds, thus also winning the vacant WBC title and becoming undisputed. He would however lose both titles in his next fight against the slickster Joey Giardello, on points. He reclaimed those titles in their rematch in 1965, also winning by UD. He however lost the titles in his very first defense against Emile Griffith and even tho Tiger was down once for the first time in his career, the decision was loudly booed. Tiger then stepped up to 175 right after that and won the undisputed title there in 1967, by beating Jose Torres by SD. He then stopped Roger Rouse by TKO 12 in his first defense, before losing the title to Bob Foster by KO 4 in 1968. Later that year, Tiger would make his final achievement by outpointing Nino Benvenuti in 10 rounds. After losing the rematch with Griffith on points in 1970, he retired. Tiger died only a year later, on 15 December '71, of liver cancer. His record is 60 wins, 27 by ko, 19 losses (only 2 by ko) and 3 draws. Foster was the only guy to knock him out, the other "ko" loss came due to a thumb injury in an early fight. Tiger was inducted into IBHOF in 1991, its second year. He was also The Ring Fighter of the Year in 1962 and 1965.

 

2. Hogan (Kid) Bassey

 

The first ever Nigerian world boxing champion, Hogan Kid Bassey stood 5'3 (160 cm) but had a reach of 66 1/2" (169 cm). He could dish it out and take it and was tough and game, a true brawler. His birth name was Okon Bassey Asuquo and he was born 3 June 1932 in Calabar, Nigeria. He turned pro in late 1947, at only 15, so he had no amateur career. At first he fought as a flyweight and bantamweight and he won the West African bantam title in 1951. He lost two fights by disqualification early on and like Tiger, he lost quite many fights in his early career. He became a featherweight in 1953 and in November 1955 he won the Commonwealth title by knocking out Billy Spider Kelly in 8 rounds, with a single right hand. He defended it on points against Percy Lewis in a fight where Lewis was down three times and Bassey once. In April 1957, he went to America to fight in a world title eliminator against Miguel Berrios and even tho he got knocked down once, he won on points after 12 rounds. On 24 June, he then faced Cherif Hamia of Algeria for the vacant world title and stopped him by TKO 10 to become the first Nigerian world champion. He made his first defense by knocking out Ricardo Moreno in 3 and then had some non-title fights, including one against a legendary but aging Willie Pep, where he stopped Pep by TKO 9. He then made his second defense against Davey Moore on 18 March 1959. He was better in the first five rounds, but then Moore took over and gave him a bad beating which resulted in bad cuts above both eyes and finally, after round 13, the fight was stopped. They had a rematch on 19 August and again, Bassey had to retire, this time after 10 rounds. He had also been knocked down. He retired after this debacle, aged only 27 but with 12 years of prizefighting experience. His record is 68(25)-13-4.

 

3. Ike Ibeabuchi

 

Although never a champion, Ibeabuchi certainly looked capable of becoming one, before his promising career came to a sudden shocking halt. Real name Ikemefula Charles Ibeabuchi, the 6'2 Ibeabuchi was very powerfully built, had the big punch and also the necessary skills to be a world class player at the highest weight. He also could take great amounts of punishment, as demonstrated against David Tua. However, some say that this punishment contributed to him developing a mental disorder. Anyway, Ike at first wanted to become a soldier, until he saw Buster Douglas knock out Mike Tyson and decided to start boxing as amateur first. He emigrated to Dallas in 1993 and there he won two Golden Gloves competitions before turning pro in October 1994. He racked up a record of 16-0 with 12 ko's. He then received a fight against 27-0 and hard-punching David Tua from Samoa, which happened 7 June 1997. Tua was defending his WBC International title which he won by a crushing and quick ko against John Ruiz. Ike was better in the early rounds while Tua took most of the middle ones, before Ike came back to win the late rounds and in the end was victorious by a somewhat too wide unanimous decision. However, right after the fight, he began experiencing headaches and not long thereafter he started claiming he was plagued by visions of demons and evil spirits. It was obvious he had developed some sort of a brain damage. He was therefore gone from the ring for a year before returning in July 1998. He also vacated the title because he could not defend it for a year. On 20 March '99, he got his second major fight and career break against Chris Byrd, who was also undefeated at 26-0. The ultra-clever Byrd had never been down and was famously hard to hit because of his solid defensive skills. Ike however proved he had real talent by finding the target in the fifth round and sending Byrd down twice, first time with an unusual bolo punch, before the fight was over. The punchstats also showed Ibeabuchi outlanding Byrd altogether. However, that would be his final fight also. Despite having plans for a major fight against Lennox Lewis (who became undisputed champion later that same year), trouble caught up with "President" Ike again and he was jailed for both sexual offense and violence. He was released first in 2020, after failing several parole hearings. His record remains 20-0 with 15 ko's.

 

4. Herbie Hide

 

Known as "Dancing Destroyer", Hide was one of the deadliest punchers in the game in the 90's, but after that he experienced a gradual decline, especially after being destroyed by Vitali Klitschko in 1999. Real name Herbert Okechukwu Maduagwu, Hide was born in Amauzari, Nigeria. Standing 6'2 and of lithe build, he at first fought as a cruiserweight and he was actually never a real heavyweight, but he wanted to compete there because of the challenge and the money, so he started stuffing his pockets during weigh ins in order to be heavy enough. He relocated to Norwich, England to start a pro career, debuting at the age of 18 in 1989. After winning 10 fights at cruiserweight, all by knockout, he started fighting heavyweights in 1991 and in January next year won the WBC International title by easily stopping Conroy Nelson by TKO 2. After making one defense against Craig Petersen by TKO 6, he vacated it. He faced Michael Bentt, the unlikely-WBO champion, on 19 March 1994 and knocked him out in 7 rounds. He however did not defend until a year later, 11 March 1995, when he had to go to USA to fight the much bigger and stronger Riddick Bowe. After initially doing well and even staggering Bowe a couple times, he was down seven times and stopped by a KO 6. He reclaimed the WBO title against Tony Tucker in 1997 and impressively stopped the 6'5 Tucker in 2 rounds. After making 2 quick and easy defenses by ko, he lost the title to even-bigger Vitali Klitschko, a 6'7 giant from Ukraine, when he was knocked out in 2 rounds, 26 June 1999 in Millwall, same place where he first won the title. The rest of his career would be very forgettable and after 2004, he returned to cruiserweight ranks and fought there until 2010. His record is 49(43)-4-0.

 

5. Henry Akinwande

 

The Towering Nightmare. 6'7 Akinwande was a very avoided opponent for a while-until he ran into Lennox Lewis. Henry Adetokunboh Akinwande was actually born in Dulwich, London, but moved to Nigeria as a 4-yearold. His birthyear is variously listed as 1962 or 1965. As amateur, he was the 1986 and 1987 ABA finalist, before finally winning it in 1988. Same year, he represented Britain at the Olympics in Seoul, but was eliminated in the first round against Arnold Vanderlyde of Netherlands, on points. Next year, he again won the ABA, beating Herbie Hide in the final on points. He then turned pro in October same year and went 18-0 before drawing against German Axel Schulz in a fight for the European heavy title, 19 December '92 in Germany. In his next fight in March next year, he beat Jimmy Thunder on points to win the Commonwealth title and then beat Schulz in the rematch in May to win the Euro title as well. Akinwande also has a very big reach of 86 inches or 218 cm and used it effectively to land punches against his shorter foes. In December '95, he also beat Tony Tucker by UD 10 and then next year on 29 June, he knocked out Jeremy Williams in 3 to win the vacant WBO title. Akinwande relocated to Tallahassee in Florida, where he still lives. He defended it twice, first stopping the 6'5 Russian contender Alexander Zolkin by TKO 10 and then decisioning Scott Welch of UK, before vacating the title to challenge for the WBC one against Lennox Lewis. That fight happened on 12 July '97 and Akinwande landed some good punches, arguably scoring a quick knockdown in round 3, but then retorted to holding and clinching and was eventually disqualified in round 5. Although he decisioned Orlin Norris in his next fight and stopped Maurice Harris in 1 round, his career took a serious blow after the Lewis fight and in November 2001, he was knocked out in the 10th round by Oliver McCall. After that, he fought a lot in Germany and in May 2003 beat the equally tall Timo Hoffmann by SD to win the IBF Intercontinental title. He defended it twice before losing it to much shorter but capable Ukrainian Oleg Platov, by SD. He retired after losing to Ondrej Pala by UD 6 in Istanbul, 4 July 2008. He was already well past 40 and he left behind a record of 50 wins with 30 ko's, 4 losses and 1 draw. Akinwande had the skills and the punch, but his career went downhill fast after the lack of courage he showed against Lewis.

 

6. Samuel Peter

 

So far, the last Nigerian world champion and elite level heavyweight. Peter was kinda short for a modern era heavyweight at 6'1 (he's not 6'2, don't believe that!) but physically very strong and solidly built, possessing the one punch kind of power that always came handy in that division. He had a very basic boxing style but possessed good reflexes for a man of his build. Samuel Okon Peter was born in Akwa Ibom, on 6 September 1980 (tho there are rumors he might be older) and competed as a super heavyweight at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where he first defeated Konstantin Onofrei of Romania before losing to Paolo Vidoz on points in the second round. He claims an amateur record of 19-2. He started boxing at the age of 11. He turned pro in early 2001 and scored 7 straight knockouts, 6 in the first round. In December 2004, he knocked out another famed puncher, Jeremy Williams, in 2 rounds to win the vacant NABF title. In his next fight in January, he also stopped Yanqui Diaz by TKO 5 to win the USBA title as well. He then challenged the former and future world champion Wladimir Klitschko in a defense of both those titles, in what was also the eliminator for the IBF and WBO title fights, 24 September 2005, in Atlantic City. Although he dropped the much taller Ukrainian three times, he was unable to finish him off and was outboxed for the rest of the fight and lost convincingly on the scorecards, 111-114 on all three. His first true success came on 2 September 2006, when he beat James Toney by SD to win the NABF and IBA titles, in a WBC-eliminator. They had a rematch on 6 January next year and this time Peter won by UD. Peter managed to even knock down the defensively sound Toney with a jab in the second round. He finally won the WBC title on 8 March 2008 by stopping the champion Oleg Maskaev by TKO 6. He however lost in his first defense against Vitali Klitschko, who was returning from a 3-year layoff, by corner retirement in 8 in a very one sided fight. On 11 September 2010, he was also knocked out in a rematch with his brother Wladimir in 10 rounds and that was the end of his prime. After also getting knocked out by Robert Helenius, stopped against Kubrat Pulev and Hughie Fury due to injuries and finally stopped by Arslanbek Makhmudov by TKO 1 in 2019, he finally retired. His record is 38(31)-9-0.

 

7. Bash Ali

 

Bashiru Bash Ali was one of the first cruiserweights ever and one of the few Nigerians to fight for a world title in the 80's. He was born in Lagos, the largest city in the country, and was at first a wrestler. He was inspired to take up boxing after seeing a poster of Muhamed Ali and then went to the gym to watch boxers train, which furthermore enticed him to take up the gloves. He had his first pro fight in 1978 and lost it by SD 6. He went 5-5 in his first 10 fights, also losing to Yaqui Lopez by UD 10 in October '79. It was his inexperience that made him lose so many fights early on, but gradually, he started improving. He then won his 9 next fights, including winning the USBA title by SD 12 against Jesse Burnett in December '80. He was knocked down once but held on to win on points. On 2 October '81, he fought Marvin Camel in a defense of his title and dropped a rather close UD to him. On 2 June '84, he fought Carlos De Leon for his WBC title and lost by wide scores. He however managed to get a split decision in a rematch with Yaqui Lopez, thus winning the California state title. He also won the NABF title by stopping Anthony Davis by TKO 9, 19 June '85. On 22 April next year, he lost this title against Henry Tillman by TKO 1. In 1990, he won the WBC International title by UD 12 against Patrick Lumumba and then had his final big title fight against Bobby Czyz, the WBA-champion, 9 August '91, which he lost by UD. In July '96, he also fought against WBO-champion Ralf Rocchigiani and lost to him by somewhat close scores. He would win his final title, the World Boxing Federation one, over 20 years after becoming a pro, 11 September 2000, after stopping Terry Ray by a corner retirement in 7. He had his final fight on 15 August 2004 and beat Tony Booth by TKO 4. He finally retired, after 26 years of fighting as a pro! His record is 66(46)-14-0.

 

8. David Izon

 

Full name David Izonritei, the Lagos-native Izon was a very good amateur, but as a pro he failed to achieve much. 6'3 Izon had a big reach of 83 inches and was also blessed with punching power, scoring 23 ko's in 27 wins. However, his chin was somewhat shaky and he was knocked out 4 times in 6 losses. He participated at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and won the silver, beating David Tua and Kirk Johnson before losing to Felix Savon on points in the final. A year before, he also won the All-Africa Games in Cairo. The muscular Izon turned pro in March 1993 and went 18-0 before being upset against the tricky Maurice Mo Harris in March 1996, losing to him by UD 8. Izon scored a knockdown, but it wasn't enough as he found himself on the losing end but by close scores. In his next fight in December that year, he faced his old Olympic opponent David Tua and gave him a good fight, but got stopped by a barrage of punches in the 12th and last round, after being ahead on one of the scorecards. Next year, he knocked out the 6'5 contender Lou Savarese in 5, before getting stopped by the 6'7 Michael Grant, also in 5 rounds. He rebounded by knocking out Darroll Wilson in 4 and in January 2000 also stopped the 22-0 Derrick Jefferson by TKO 9 after soaking up a lot of punishment. However, he was surprisingly stopped by Fres Oquendo in 2001, by TKO in only 3 rounds, where Izon looked very poor. In 2002, he was stopped by Joe Mesi, a rising contender at the time, by a KO 9 and after losing his next fight to Al "Ice" Cole by UD 8, 1 March 2003, Izon retired. The fiasco against Oquendo is to blame on fights with Wlad Klitschko and Hasim Rahman falling through and Izon being inactive for 14 months, which was very unfortunate, as he was on a winning streak at the time. His brother Roger Izonritei also fought as a pro, but was unsuccessful.

 

9. Joe Lasisi

 

Another native of Lagos, Lasisi was a fine puncher and a strong guy who stood 6'2. He won 25 fights, scoring 22 ko's and only lost 2, one by a somewhat premature stoppage and one on points in a close fight. It's a shame he didn't get more bigger fights, because he only got to show his worth against Virgil Hill, who was one of the trickiest fighters at the time at 175. Lasisi turned pro in 1983 and won the West African Boxing Union title after stopping George Mensah Klingenberg by TKO 2. In April 1986, he impressively beat the famous contender Lottie Mwale by KO 8 to win the African Boxing Union title as well. In late 1987, he started fighting in USA and beat semi-contender Jessie Shelby by TKO 1, before beating Uriah Grant by UD 10. He eventually got a fight against the reigning WBA-champion Virgil Hill, which happened 27 May '89 in Bismarck, North Dakota. Lasisi had problems solving Hill's boxing puzzle, but in the 6th he had a good showing and even hurt Hill with a quick combination. In the 7th however, as the two were trading, he was put down by a surprise left and after beating the count, stopped by a short barrage against the ropes. However, Lasisi thought the stoppage was premature, but still the result was left standing. In 1990, he lost for the second and last time by a majority decision against tough David Vedder, in an eliminator for the IBF Intercontinental fight. He retired but came back briefly in 1995, winning the African BU title again in 1996, by knocking out Onebo Maxime in 11 rounds. He retired after one more fight in 1999. Lasisi was certainly a capable offensive fighter, but was matched against the wrong opponent with Hill, and his career suffered because of that. Truly a pity, as he was a very exciting fighter with great potential.

 

10. Lateef Kayode

 

The 6'2 and muscular Kayode was a capable fighter with good power, but unfortunately for him, he was involved in two controversial fights: the Antonio Tarver fight and Luis Ortiz fight. Both ended as no decisions, for different reasons. Kayode was also born in Lagos and was trained by Freddie Roach after 2008 and managed by Gary Shaw. Kayode turned pro in USA in 2008 and went 12-0 before winning the vacant WBO NABO cruiser title by TKO 8 against Alfredo Escalera jr, in August 2010. In his next fight two months later, he stopped the Colombian puncher Epifanio Mendoza by RTD 5 to win the NABF title as well. He also won the NABA title a year later, by decisioning Matt Godfrey and defended it once that same year against Felix Cora Jr, also by decision. He then faced Antonio Tarver, who was already 43 years old but still game enough, in a fight for Tarver's IBO title. It was on 2 June 2012 in Carson, Nevada and after 12 rounds, the fight was proclaimed a split draw. Kayode was adamant he had won and indeed, punchstats showed him outlanding Tarver slightly in both power punches and total punches. 20 days later, Tarver tested positive for a steroid and the fight was turned into a no-decision instead. For some reason, Kayode did not receive an offer to fight for it again against Danny Green, whom Tarver had taken it from and who again held it. Instead, he decided to try himself as a heavyweight and returned to the ring on December 2013 to win his first fight as a heavy against Travis Fulton by TKO 2. After winning another fight by TKO, he faced Luis Ortiz, then 21-0 and considered a top contender, 11 September 2014. He was taken out in 1 round, but also Ortiz's blood test later revealed a banned substance, so once again-the result was turned into a no-contest. Kayode decided to return to cruiserweight ranks in 2015, but after winning one fight on points, he was stopped by Denis Lebedev by a TKO 8 on 4 November that year. He came back to the ring in 2017 but again lost, this time on points, against Keith Tapia, despite knocking him down once. After getting kayoed by up and comer Andrew Tabiti in 6 rounds and stopped by corner retirement in 6 by Aleksei Egorov in 2018, he retired. His record is 21 wins, 16 by ko, and 4 losses, 3 by ko.

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- - Yes, Tiger a clear #1 here, but I'd have Peter #2. He's 2x plus Hogan who's a mighty fine fighter you made a mighty fine case for #2.

 

Certainly better than Ike who represented unlimited potential as Peter did until Tua tore him a new one, and certainly that one of the all time great non title heavy fights.

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- - Yes, Tiger a clear #1 here, but I'd have Peter #2. He's 2x plus Hogan who's a mighty fine fighter you made a mighty fine case for #2.

 

Certainly better than Ike who represented unlimited potential as Peter did until Tua tore him a new one, and certainly that one of the all time great non title heavy fights.

 

No way Peter deserves to be that high. Besides his power, he was a very average fighter and had no defence, which the Vitali fight proved very well. Wasn't able to overcome adversity. Ibeabuchi had it all, more or less.

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No way Peter deserves to be that high. Besides his power, he was a very average fighter and had no defence, which the Vitali fight proved very well. Wasn't able to overcome adversity. Ibeabuchi had it all, more or less.

 

--- Ike with zero defense that made Tua look like a Fancy Dan in that fight.

 

Peter at least won a title and put up a scrap against top guys. Ike, again, no more than potential.

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--- Ike with zero defense that made Tua look like a Fancy Dan in that fight.

 

Peter at least won a title and put up a scrap against top guys. Ike, again, no more than potential.

 

Zero defense? Then how did he win that fight? Rubbish, sir! :haha:

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Zero defense? Then how did he win that fight? Rubbish, sir! :haha:

 

--- Sir, The President only won a spare fight. Tuaman won the WAR with a steller career as Ike melted like a spilt summer snowcone on the sidewalk.

 

Ya could look it up on boxrec!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
- - Josh born of two Nigerian parents, all of whom likely hold dual citizenships.

 

And Josh better than the rest of your list, so there's that.

 

Two? Sure of that? Nah, his mother is at least half Irish, that's what I heard. DROP IT!:wave::haha:

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Two? Sure of that? Nah, his mother is at least half Irish, that's what I heard. DROP IT!:wave::haha:

 

- - Gotta tat of Nigeria on his shoulder, not Ireland.

 

The average viewer of such tats wouldn't be able to recognize either since their Geometric shapes are rather bland for any recognition sorta like most countries save Texas and the like...

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- - Gotta tat of Nigeria on his shoulder, not Ireland.

 

The average viewer of such tats wouldn't be able to recognize either since their Geometric shapes are rather bland for any recognition sorta like most countries save Texas and the like...

 

HE IS BRITISH, END OF STORY! Ok?

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