Heavyweight Ajagba wins decision over Shaw in disappointing snoozer
Also: Down on the cards, Rice inflicts terrible cut, stops Vianello
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Heavyweight Efe Ajagba outpointed Stephan Shaw in a dull Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event that left the crowd booing on Saturday night at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Ajagba won his second fight in a row since a 10-round decision loss to unbeaten Frank Sanchez and ensuing surgery on both of his elbows. All three judges scored it 96-94, which seemed generous for Shaw.
Ajagba relied heavily on a stiff left jab to win. He utilized it throughout the fight, only occasionally mixing in his strong right hand.
It was a solid left hand that landed on the 6-foot-4, 239.5-pound Shaw early in the sixth round that stood him up along the ropes. In the seventh round, the 6-6, 235.25-pound Ajagba connected with a good right hand that forced Shaw back.
But there were few other telling shots and Shaw barely did anything at all in his biggest fight.
“I went back to the corner and they told me to let my hands go, keep throwing punches, my jab,” Ajagba said. “I controlled the fight, so that’s how I won the fight.
“He tried to land the big shots. I watched him to see what he was going to do. He kept throwing the jab, using the jab more.”
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Ajagba (17-1, 13 KOs), 28, a 2016 Nigerian Olympian, was originally scheduled to fight Oscar Rivas, but when he suffered a detached retina and was forced out of the bout three weeks ago, Shaw, who was scheduled to fight Guido Vianello in the co-feature, accepted the opportunity to move into the main event.
As little as Ajagba showed — although he at least went forward and tried to make the fight — Shaw (18-1, 13 KOs), 30, of St. Louis, showed even less and in the ninth and 10th rounds the crowd lustily booed the severe lack of action, especially when Shaw showed zero urgency in the final round when it was clear he was behind.
According to CompuBox statistics, Ajagba laded 111 of 430 punches (26 percent), including 90 of 350 jabs. Shaw landed only 78 of 341 punches (23 percent). Ajagba outlanded Shaw in seven rounds and two of the rounds they landed the same number of shots.
Rice stops Vianello on cut
Heavyweight journeyman Jonnie Rice notched his third upset victory in a row in the co-feature, stopping unbeaten Vianello in the seventh round due to a terrible cut over his left eye.
Rice, who had done almost nothing in the fight and was losing, ripped open a deep gash over Vianello’s eye with a clean right hand in the sixth round.
When the seventh round began, referee Benjy Esteves called timeout to have the cut checked and the ringside doctor recommended the fight be stopped.
Esteves waved it off at 40 seconds, but shockingly told the judges to score the seventh round. He said that the fight would go to the scorecards as a technical decision because the cut had been caused by an accidental head butt.
However, after discussing it with regulators at ringside, the decision was made to look at television replays, which is not standard on Oneida Indian Nation land. However, they gave the green light and Esteves went to ringside and looked at ESPN’s replays and changed ruling, correctly awarding the fight to Rice by TKO.
“I did it again, (beat) another undefeated fighter,” Rice said. “I’m not here to call anyone out right now. I’m going to enjoy this victory and then see what’s next.”
Rice (16-6-1, 10 KOs), 35, a Los Angeles native fighting out of Las Vegas, was down 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56 going into the seventh round but emerged with a big win over Vianello (10-1-1, 9 KOs), 28, a 2016 Italian Olympian with whom he had sparred about 30 rounds.
Rice, who was coming off a one-year layoff, took the fight on three weeks’ notice when Vianello’s original opponent, Shaw, was moved into the main event when Ajagba’s original opponent suffered an eye injury.
Now Rice, who lost a six-round decision to Shaw in 2016, a six-rounder to 2016 French Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Tony Yoka in 2017 and a 10-round decision to Ajagba in 2020, has scored three unexpected wins in a row.
In July 2021, he rebounded from the loss to Ajagba to knock out the promising and unbeaten Michael Coffie in the fifth round and then outpointed him in an immediate rematch in last January.
Photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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None of the 4 HW's featured are a threat to any top 10 fighter in the division in the near and perhaps even the distant future. Unimpressive is an understatement 🙄
I saw the last 2rds and it was boring so I can imagine what the rest of the fight was