Boxing is one of the most popular sports in the world, featuring 17 weight categories and around 20,000 active professional boxers.
It’s a respected sport among Nigerians, and we admit, however painfully, that many of us eagerly anticipated our dear Anthony Joshua to trump Usyk and get his much-needed revenge.
So fervent was Nigerian interest in the Joshua vs. Usyk event that top bookmakers like Betking (easily accessible via a betking mobile app download) provided fantastic betting odds on the encounter.
Well, just like Joshua, the “giant of Africa” has produced some great fighters across the various weight divisions that have made the country, and occasionally, other countries proud.
In this article, you’ll know the five greatest boxers Nigeria has ever produced and what makes them stand out.
Top Five Greatest Boxers From Nigeria
From the fearless “Nigerian Nightmare” to the strong Hogan “Kid” Bassey to the swift and pacy Anthony Joshua, Nigeria has seen many boxing talents. Here are some of the greatest from the country.
Although Joshua professionally represents Great Britain, “AJ” has Nigerian roots and has not been shy about his Nigerian heritage.
The solid puncher is a two-time former unified world heavyweight champion as he had held the IBF, IBO, WBA (super), and WBO heavyweight championships twice each.
Anthony Joshua is known for his speed, power, and explosiveness.
He relies on his quick and thunderous punches to either knock out opponents or win unanimously. In 27 professional fights, Anthony Joshua had won a whopping 24 times, 22 by KO, and lost only thrice.
The “Nigerian Nightmare” didn’t have the best boxing career but had one just enough to guarantee him a spot as one of Nigeria’s most feared boxers.
After losing unimpressively to Vladimir Klitschko during the early stages of his career, Samuel seemed to learn from his mistakes as he went on to win his next six fights, including the one VS Oleg Maskaev that gave him the WBC heavyweight title.
In 2007, The Ring ranked him the second-best heavyweight boxer in the world and acknowledged him as one of the best ten from 2005-08.
Samuel Peters fought 47 times professionally and won all but 9 of his fights, including 31 by knockout. His outrageous knockout record goes a long way in showing how much of a powerful puncher he was.
Ike Ibeabuchi is one of those boxers whose career was cut short by drama and lawsuits. Considering the 20-0 record he held before his imprisonment in 1999, he might’ve come out to become one of the greatest in the game.
Out of the 20 fights he won, 15 were knockouts, not to mention that he defeated highly ranked David Tia in an epic battle in 1997 and Chris Bryd in 1999.
He was released after serving 16 years in the Nevada state prison. Ibeabuchi hinted at returning to professional boxing after his release, but it wasn’t to be as he was rearrested again. Nonetheless, he’s still the only Nigerian undefeated boxer in the heavyweight boxing category.
Richard Ihetu is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s greatest boxers of all time, and he was an undisputed champion in the middleweight and light heavyweight categories at the peak of his career. His achievements were why he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Richard also won numerous fighters of the year awards, notably from The Ring magazine and Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
He fought 89 times in his career, won 60, lost 19, and drew thrice. Richard breathed his last at Aba, Nigeria, at 42 years from complications related to liver cancer.
Hogan Kid Bassey
Hogan Bassey may be relatively unknown to the current generation, but that isn’t the case for those present in the 1950s.
He was a household name in Nigeria, especially after he became the first Nigerian to win a world boxing championship.
Hogan Kid Bassey hailed from Calabar, where he spent most of his amateur and early pro days competing in the featherweight category.
Upon his arrival to England, he quickly made a name for himself by winning the empire featherweight championship and defeating Cherif Hamia in France to win the world crown in 1957.
Hogan Bassey retired after participating in 74 fights, winning 59, losing 13, and drawing twice.
Over the years, Nigeria’s production of top boxers has contributed immensely to the sport’s development, and not many African countries can rival Nigeria in breeding boxing superstars.
While Nigeria doesn’t seem to have an abundance of top-class professional boxers at the moment, the country has had numerous in the past that made history in the sport.