Born in Lagos, Nigeria on December 30, 1980, 5'9" light heavyweight Ijeoma "The
Praise" Egbunine now
lives in Marietta, Georgia, USA where she is trained and managed by the Rev. Henry Okafor.
Already the holder of 10 medals for field events in
her native Nigeria, Ijeoma came to the United States and received a prophecy:
her path to glory lay in boxing. Ijeoma accepted this unusual revelation by
taking her pastor as her manager, and dedicated herself both physically and
spiritually to success in her new calling.
At the 2004 Georgia State Games Ijeoma won the 178-lb division with a 2-1
decision over Tiesha Conyers.
At the 2004 Ringside World championships on August 21, 2004 in Kansas City,
Missouri, Ijeoma defeated Vanessa Lopez of Imperial, California to win the
178-lb division with a second-round KO.
She made her pro debut on December 3 2004 at Earthlink Live in Atlanta, Georgia,
against undefeated Janaya Davis of Atlanta, winning by
a four-round unanimous decision. Davis was the 2002 USA Boxing national 165-lb
champion and had compiled a 10-1 amateur and 4-0 pro record but claimed that she
was set up to lose the bout.
On February 18, 2005 at Earthlink Live in Atlanta, Ijeoma (168 lbs) TKO'd
Janaya Davis (166 lbs) in the second round of a scheduled four-round rematch. Egbunine had promised to be more aggressive in this
rematch and came out blazing in the first round. Davis was able to land some clean
shots, but Egbunine appeared to be the more powerful fighter. The
second became a pitched battle and at 0:30 into the round Egbunine landed an
overhand right that sent Davis to the canvas. Davis struggled to get to her
feet, but fell to the canvas again, prompting referee Jim Korb to stop the fight.
Davis was now 4-2 (1 KO), Egbunine 2-0 (1 KO).
March 12, 2005 at the Radisson Hotel in Huntington, West
Virginia, 600 fans saw Nikki
Eplion (177½ lbs) of South Point, Ohio win a six-round
unanimous (59-55,58-56,58-56) decision over Ijeoma
(175 lbs). "I knew it
would be rough. I’m going to have to take this kind of
fight," said Eplion, who was coming off a loss to
Laila Ali. "I knew I had every round. I
showed heart." Egbunine's trainer Henry Okafor
disagreed with the decision, saying that Eplion "never
threw any punches". According to Team Egbunine,
this dubious hometown taught Ijeoma "an ugly but important lesson: Never
leave it up to the judges".
On June 11, 2005 at the Venue in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ijeoma (176 lbs)
won a four-round majority (39-37,39-37,38-38) decision over Alexandra Maloy
(5'10", 176 lbs) of Tampa, Florida.
According to reporter Christopher Goffard of the St Petersburg Times, "Maloy
comes out tentatively. The first two rounds, Egbunine knocks her around the
ring. About Round Three, Maloy finds her game. She lands a right hook, and a
left hook, and watches Egbunine's head jerk. They're both standing after four.
One judge calls it a draw. The other two give it to Egbunine." Both
fighters had trouble making the contract weight for this bout. Maloy fell to
1-1-1 with the loss.
On July 16, 2005 at the Venue in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ijeoma TKO'd
40-year old debut fighter Annette Joyner (165 lbs) of Wilson, North Carolina at
1:35 in the first round of a scheduled four-rounder.
On August 13, 2005 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC, Ijeoma (171
lbs) knocked out Alexandra Maloy (175 lbs) at 1:04 in the seventh round of a
scheduled eight-rounder for the WBE Super Middleweight title.
On November 5, 2005 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC, USA, Ijeoma
(170 lbs) TKO'd local fighter Carlette Ewell
(5'8", 170 lbs) for the WBE
Light Heavyweight and Super Middleweight Titles. The catch weight bout was the
card's Main Event. According to WBAN's insider, Ewell and Egbunine were in top
condition for this bout. "In round one, Ewell moved well as a boxer, and was
impressive in how she has improved as a boxer. Ewell (was) known more as a
brawler, the latter style may have suited her more when fighting Egbunine,
sticking to more of her old style and making a war out of it. By trying to box
“the boxer” Egbunine ----used her height and reach to her advantage." Ewell
went down in both rounds before referee Bill Clancy stopped the bout at 1:15 in
the second. The crowd was reported to have been “stunned” as they thought their
hometown favorite (Ewell) would win the bout. Instead, she slipped to 10-4-0 (7
KO's) while Egbunine improved to 6-1 (4 KO's).
On December 7, 2005 at Vegas Nights in Marietta, Georgia, Ijeoma TKO'd debut
fighter Renee Polusky in the second round of a scheduled four-rounder.
On January 14, 2006 at the Venue in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ijeoma (171 lbs)
TKO'd Tinitia Austin (5'9",168 lbs) of Largo, Florida at 0:54 in the first round
of a scheduled four-rounder. There was again a weigh-in controversy
as the fight had been contracted for 167 lbs but, according to Austin's manager,
former IFBA and WIBF world Featherweight champion Bonnie Canino, Egbunine
came in at 172
lb "being dried out, and butt naked." Canino
before the fight, "This fight is a controversy with the Austin camp as a
matter of setting up Austin for an even match and possible loss with a bigger
opponent, knowing she (Egbunine) couldn't make the weight of 167 pounds. Austin
wants to fight, and came to fight as warrior would. The fight will still
happen, but I just wanted to let you and everyone else know about the unethical
practices of the Egbunine camp." Austin fell to 5-3-0 (1 KO) with the loss.
On February 18, 2006 at the Joel Coliseum Annex in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina, Ijeoma (173½ lbs) knocked out veteran Valerie Mahfood (5'8", 170½ lbs)
of Groves, Texas at 0:37 in the second round of a scheduled ten-rounder for the
WIBF Light Heavyweight title. Mahfood fell to 19-11-2 (9 KO's) with this loss.
On April 8, 2006 at The Venue in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ijeoma (176 lbs)
won by a 30-27 technical decision at the end of the third round of a scheduled
six-rounder over Brenda Bell Drexel (5' 2½", 176 lbs) of
San Marcos, Texas who had sustained a broken nose. Bell Drexel fell to 5-26-2 (0
KO's) with the loss.
On May 6, 2006 at The Venue in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ijeoma (169 lbs) won
a four-round unanimous (40-36) decision over Veronica Rucker (170 lbs) of
Cleveland, Ohio, who fell to 1-5-1 (1 KO).
On June 17, 2006 at the Joel Coliseum Annex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina,
Ijeoma (169 lbs) TKO'd Åsa Sandell (166½ lbs) of Malmo, Sweden at 1:58 in the
second round of a scheduled eight-round co-main event. Sandell fell to 3-3-1 (2 KOs) with the loss.
On January 6, 2007 at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena
in Hollywood, Florida Laura Ramsey (168 lbs) of Lake
Wales, Florida KO'd Ijeoma (167 lbs) at 1:44 in the first round. According to a
ringside report at
FightNews.com, "Ramsey caught Egbunine with a vicious
right hook for the first knockdown and Egbunine never recovered. She was knocked
down two times more after a barrage of punches. It seemed that Egbunine didn’t
know where she was after the second knockdown and Ramsey jumped all over her to
end the fight. Referee Frank Santore stopped the fight as soon as Egbunine hit
the canvas the third time." Laura
Ramsey improved to 7-2-0 (3 KOs) with the win.
On April 14, 2007 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum
Annex in Winston Salem, North Carolina, Ijeoma
Egbunine (171 lbs) won an eight-round unanimous (79-71,79-71,79-71) decision over 21-year-old
Veronica Rucker (176 lbs) of Cleveland, Ohio, who fell to 5-7-1 (1 KO).
On May 9, 2008, at Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Ijeoma Egbunine (167½
lbs) TKO'd Veronica Rucker (157½ lbs) in the fifth round of a scheduled
six-round rematch. Rucker fell to 5-10-1 (1 KO).
On August 8, 2008 at the Ferst
Center for the Arts, in Atlanta, Georgia, Ijeoma Egbunine (167 lbs) won a
six-round unanimous (59-55,58-55,59-55) decision over former world champion Lisa Ested (166 lbs) of
Richmond, Virginia, who fell to 10-6 (5 KO's). Egbunine improved her
record to 15-2 (10 KO's) with the win.
On April 4, 2009 at the Convention Center in
Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ijeoma Egbunine (170 lbs) won an eight-round
unanimous decision over Leatitia Robinson
(166 lbs) of Chicago, Illinois. Robinson used her boxing skills to slip
many of Egbunine’s power punches, but couldn’t mount enough offense against
Egbunine's jab. Egbunine said that "Robinson is a
good boxer but she couldn't get through my jab. I had my game plan, when she
boxed inside I would bull her, when she tried to bull me, I would box.
I was very disciplined. I tried to win each round and keep on top of her. She
couldn’t come back on me.” This loss dropped the previously unbeaten
Robinson, who had not fought since December 2006, to 15-1 (9 KO's).
On May 25, 2011 at Action
Academy Sports in Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA, Ijeoma Egbunine (226
lbs) returned to the ring and won a six-round unanimous
(60-54,58-56,58-56) decision over WIBA Heavyweight champion Gwendolyn
O'Neil (214 lbs) of Georgetown, Guyana. O'Neil fell to 17-7-1
(7 KO's) with the loss. Egbunine advanced to 17-2 (10 KO's). The return against the former world champion also earned
Egbunine an "honorable mention" for WBAN's "Biggest Comeback of the
Year" award for 2011, which went to Mexican boxing pioneer Laura Serrano.
Ijeoma trains at Team Praise Boxing Gym. Her manager Henry Okafor can be contacted at
678-360 2484 or 770-598-6020.
Other Ijeoma Egbunine links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Friday, 09 August 2013