Efe Ajagba Has New Opponent For January
Although Top Rank Boxing has yet to officially announce it, heavyweight contender Efe Ajagba has a new opponent for the Top Rank Boxing/ESPN launch of their 2023 schedule in January.
Our Dan Rafael reported last week that rising unbeaten Stephan Shaw, who had already been scheduled to fight on the undercard of the January 14th show at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY, will now fight Ajagba. Top Rank is expected to make the fight official as soon as this week.
Ajagba, 16-1, 13 KOs, was to have fought veteran Colombian contender Oscar Rivas in the showcase bout. However, Rivas’ team announced last week that he had suffered an eye injury, believed to be a detached retina, and was forced to withdraw from the bout.
Ajagba, a 2016 Nigerian Olympian, quickly established himself as one of the division’s heaviest hitters, as he tallied six first-round knockouts in his first eight bouts. Then, in April 2021, Ajagba utilized his big right hand to blast out Brian Howard in a Knockout of the Year contender fight.
Ajagba suffered his first pro loss later in October 2021 on a decision defeat to Frank Sanchez. He then had surgery on both his elbows, before returning this past August to stop Hungarian veteran Jozsef Darmos in the second round. Ajagba isn’t ranked in the top 10 by any of the four world organizations, but would like to start changing that in 2023 by scoring impressive wins, again.
More on the opponent
Meanwhile, Shaw is from St. Louis, is 18-0, 13 KOs, but this will be his biggest challenge yet. Shaw was to have fought unbeaten, Italian Guido Vianello 10-0-1, 9 KO’s as a support bout on the Top Rank show. Vianello, a former Italian Olympian and police officer there, has previously been a sparring partner in Las Vegas for WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury.
Boxingscene.com’s Keith Idec reported Monday that Vianello will also stay on the Top Rank/ESPN show and fight veteran Jonnie Rice, 15-6-1, 10 KOs. While Rice’s record isn’t impressive, his two victories over Michael Coffie were. He upset Coffie by TKO in July 2021 on a PBC/Fox Sports card and then won their rematch on January 1st by impressive 10 round decision.