Efe Ajagba fights past Stephan Shaw for unanimous decision

Efe Ajagba did better on Saturday night against an undefeated boxer-puncher than the last time he fought it.

Two fights after his one-sided defeat by unanimous decision to Frank Sanchez, Ajagba won what usually came down to a jabbing match against previously undefeated Stephan Shaw by unanimous decision. Nigerian Ajagba was the aggressor for nearly all 10 rounds, while Shaw seemed reluctant to take on the hard-hitting heavyweight contender in an ESPN main event broadcast from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.

Judges Eric Marlinski, John McKaie and Don Trella scored their quiet encounter identically, 96-94 to Ajagba.

“I went back to the corner and they told me to let my hands go, keep throwing punches, my jab,” said Ajagba. “I controlled the fight, so that’s how I won the fight.”

According to CompuBox, Ajagba landed a total of 33 more punches than Shaw (111-of-430 to 78-of-341). CompuBox credited Ajagba for landing more jabs (90-of-350 to 48-of-237) and Shaw for landing more power punches (30-of-104 to 21-of-80).

“He was trying to bring in the big shots,” Ajagba said. “I watched him to see what he was going to do. He kept throwing the jab and using the jab more.

Ajagba (17-1, 13 KOs), a 2016 Olympian, won a second straight fight since Sanchez defeated him. Cuba’s Sanchez (21-0, 14 KOs) dropped Ajagba in the seventh round and comfortably defeated him on all three scorecards in a 10-rounder that was part of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder pay-per-view undercard in October 2021 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Ajagba underwent surgery on both elbows after his loss to Sanchez. Healthier and more confident, he vowed to fight Shaw better than Sanchez.

St. Louis’ Shaw, meanwhile, was unable to capitalize on the biggest opportunity of his nine-year professional career.

Without hesitation, Shaw (18-1, 13 KOs, 1 NC) took this fight against Ajagba on less than a month’s notice. Ajagba was set to face Colombian contender Oscar Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs), but Rivas suffered a detached retina in training last month.

Shaw was already training to fight Italian prospect Guido Vianello (10-1-1, 9 KOs), who was stopped for a cut by Jonnie Rice (16-6-1, 11 KOs) in the seventh round of ESPN’s co-feature film Saturday Night.

By the time the 10th round of the main event started, it seemed clear that Ajagba and Shaw would go the distance.

Ajagba’s right hand knocked Shaw back with just over a minute left in the 10th and final round.

Ajagba’s right hand pushed Shaw into the ropes with 1:25 left in the 10th round.

Shaw lunged forward and landed a left hook with just under 20 seconds left in the ninth round. Just before the ninth round ended, Shaw landed a long range right hand.

Shaw snuck in a left hook with just under 30 seconds left in the eighth round.

Ajagba’s left hand landed with about 1:15 left in the eighth round. Shaw’s power jab landed just under 20 seconds into the eighth round.

Shaw connected with a right hand with 1:15 left in the seventh round. They mostly kept trading jabs in the seventh round.

A power jab from Ajagba pushed Shaw into the ropes 40 seconds into the sixth round. Soon after, Shaw landed a left hook while they were in the middle of the ring.

Shaw was more aggressive at times in the fifth round, but he still fought mostly off his back foot and avoided Ajagba’s power.

A sweeping left hook from Shaw connected with just over 35 seconds left in the fourth round. A right-left combination from Ajagba closed one minute into the fourth round.

Ajagba avoided Shaw’s right hand and came back quickly to land his own right hand with 1:35 left in the third round.

Ajagba and Shaw dropped powerful punches in the second round when they again mainly focused on pumping their punches.

Ajagba and Shaw exchanged stiff jabs with just over 15 seconds left in the first round. Otherwise, neither fighter got the necessary punches in the first three minutes.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

Leave a Comment