|By Katherine Dunn
Saturday, March 20, 99 Emerald Queen
Casino Tacoma, WA
Promoter Cedric Kushner Broadcast by HBO/Boxing After Dark
Referees, Jeff Macaluso, Bob Howard, Paul Field, Ron Rall Judges: Barry Druxman, Glen
hamada, Joe Macaluso, Alan Krebs, Tom McDonough, Tim Wood Inspector: Tom Sporar Ringside
Physicians: Peter Marsh, M.D., and James Ferguson,M.D.
In the ten round main event, Ike "The President" Ibeabuchi (244 1/2 lbs), now
20-0, 15 KO's, a Nigerian now fighting out of Chandler, AZ stopped previously undefeated
slickster Chris Byrd (208 3/4 lbs), now 26-1, 14 KO's, of Flint, Michigan at 2:59 of the
fifth round. The elusive southpaw Byrd was leaning on the ropes when a Presidential left
hook to the jaw rolled his eyes up and a right hand caught him on the way down. Byrd got
up but was disconnected enough to bicker with the ref, topple over from a shove, and then
stop defending himself when the ten second warning sounded, apparently thinking it was the
end of the round. Ref Ron Rall called the halt appropriately. The fight was dead even
going into the fifth. Judges scores after the fourth round were: 38-38, 39-37 for
Ibeabuchi, and 39-37 for Byrd.
Kirk Johnson (226 1/2 lbs) , now 27-0-1, the 1992 Canadian Olympic teamster now
fighting out of Morristown, New Jersey out-boxed and overpowered Al "Ice" Cole
(230 1/4 lbs), now 30-4-1, 15 KO's, the former cruiserweight world champ. The pair had
previously fought to a draw in Philadelphia in 1998. Johnson won a unanimous decision with
judges' scores of 97-93, 96-94, and 97-93.
In an eight round bout, Derrick Banks (221 lbs), now 17-3-1, 7 KO's of Livonia,
Michigan won a unanimous decision over Arthur "Stormy" Weathers (211 3/4 lbs),
now 23-13-1, 19 KO's of Louisville, Kentucky.
David Defiagbon (220 1/2 lbs), now 9-0, 7 KO's, of Las Vegas, NV stopped Terry
"Show Shocker" Verners (207 3/4 lbs) now 8-22-2, 5 KO's, of Fresno, CA at 2:24
of the first round for a TKO victory.
Grant Cudjoe (313 lbs), now 5-0, of Brooklyn, N.Y. won by disqualification over short
notice substitute James "Awesome" Arnet Churn (237 1/4 lbs), now 7-24-1, 3 KO's,
of Portland, OR. Churn went down in the first and again in the second claiming low blows.
The ringside physician and the referee determined that Churn was not wearing a foul proof
protector as required so he was disqualified. The Washington Department of Licensing later
determined that medical data in Churn's license application contained
"irregularities" and slapped him with an indefinite medical suspension.
Derek "Big Time" Berry (192 3/4 lbs), now 5-0, 4 KO's, of Fontana, CA stopped
Marcio Castilho (200 lbs), now 2-6-2, of Las Vegas, at :54 of the fourth and final round.
Young Heavyweights Collide:
Ibeabuchi KOs Byrd
Johnson Decisions Cole
By Francis Walker
It's 1999 and the heavyweight division is not getting any younger. One week following the
controversial draw between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield for the Undisputed title at
Madison Square Garden, four young heavyweights were climbing up the ladder. When the smoke
cleared, only one of them clearly emerged as a serious threat. On Saturday, March 20, at
the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington, Ike Ibeabuchi (21-0, 17KOs) earned a
stunning fifth round knockout of the fighter no one wanted to face, 1992 Olympic Silver
medalist Chris Byrd (24-1, 16KOs).
The bout, promoted by Cedric Kushner Promotions, was televised live on HBO Sports.
Byrd, entering the peak of his career, was regarded as a blown-up version of Pernell
Whitaker. Byrd's "hit and run," southpaw style made it virtually impossible for
anyone to hit him. In fact, young heavyweights Johnson, Hasim Rahman, Michael Grant,
Andrew Golota, David Tua, and Larry Donald elected not to fight Byrd. All except for
Ibeabuchi, the only fighter to defeat IBF No. 1 contender David Tua, looked to establish
himself as a threat in the heavyweight division. The 26-year-old Nigerian native did just
that, as a hard left uppercut to Byrd's chin in the fifth took his legs from under him.
Byrd, 28, Flint, Michigan, having returned from the mat face down, immediately fell again
from a hard right hook from Ibeabuchi. Byrd, looking to duck, bob and weave away, absorbed
a number of hard left and right hooks to his face.
Referee Ron Rall had no alternative but to stop the bout at 2:59 seconds of the round.
Its was a shocking defeat for Byrd, who in my book was ahead slightly. Byrd, who recently
left Main Events Monitor to sign with Cedric Kushner Promotions in search of bigger and
better fights, will drop from the rankings. Fighters who one ducked Byrd may feel
"what is there to gain from fighting Byrd? He lost!"
As for Ibeabuchi, he survived another stern challenge and his undefeated record remains in
tact. Ibeabuchi knocked out a heavyweight-southpaw fighter, who no one wanted to fight.
Ibeabuchi has now put himself in a running as one of the young forerunners to compete for
the world championship in the next couple of years.
In the CO-feature: Young heavyweight Kirk Johnson (27-0-1, 19KOs) defeated former IBF
world cruiserweight champion Alfred Cole (30-4-1, 15KOs), in a rematch from their
controversial draw last December.
On December 8, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, Johnson was docked three points
for low blows (rounds 5, 7 & 10) and an additional two for a questionable knockdown in
the first round. However, the rematch was totally different as Johnson dominated the
contest with left-jabs and straight-right hand flurries from the outside. Looking to brawl
from the inside, Cole would drop his left arm down and get caught flush with a left hook.
Unlike Byrd, Johnson did not stand in front of his opponent against the ropes to have his
opponent pound on him. Johnson instead kept moving, boxing, and catching Cole with his
left-jab, straight-right combination. Cole 34, Spring Valley, New York, proved tough and
durable, but his one-punch shots and brawling tactics were not enough to beat the slick
26-year-old boxer from North Preston, Nova Scotia.
At the end of the contest, judges Alan Kniebs and Tom Wood of Washington each scored the
bout 97-93. Lastly, Tom McDouough also from Washington scored the contest 96-94. All in
The victory for Johnson not only increases his stock, but also sets up higher profile
fights against some of the other top young heavyweight prospects.