Izegwire seeks credibility against Czyz

August 04, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

David Izegwire owns a crown, of sorts -- the International Boxing Organization's cruiserweight championship, a title he won in Aspen, Colo., last December by stopping Henry Milligan in the eighth round.

But the Nigerian native, fighting out of Washington, would prefer having what his title challenger, Bobby Czyz, possesses: public recognition and the ability to demand six-figure fight purses.

"Yes, I'm proud to be the IBO champion," said Izegwire (16-0), who defends his crown against Czyz (40-5), a two-time world champion, tonight in a pay-per-view TV event.

"But owning a championship belt is meaningless if no one knows who you are, and who you beat.

"I'm still climbing the hill, and Czyz is a big obstacle in the way. If I beat him, then I've established my credibility."

Izegwire, with his mind set on winning a track scholarship at Howard University, arrived in Washington eight years ago. When his appointed guardian was arrested, he was left virtually penniless.

For more than a year, he would survive by working odd jobs and the charity of newly won friends.

He found shelter in an abandoned car outside the House of Champions gym on Georgia Avenue, and eventually summoned enough courage to learn the rudiments of boxing from veteran trainer Bobby Brown.

Displaying talent, Izegwire was introduced by Brown to promoter Don Elbaum, who found suitable opponents on the East Coast, building his fighter's record to 14-0 before matching him against Milligan for the vacant IBO title.

"The IBO wants to have a big-time image like the WBC, WBA and IBF," said Elbaum. "Their chairman, Gary Pliner, wants to put on four pay-per-view TV events in the next year. Getting Czyz, a former champion, to appear in this first one, gives them a good start."

"I'm sure Czyz is looking past us," Elbaum said. "He thinks of Izegwire as just a tuneup before he fights someone like a Tommy Hearns or Orlin Norris.

"Czyz was a heck of a fighter, but that was four, five years ago. Izegwire is younger, faster and just as strong."

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