Heavyweight Efe Ajagba faces Oscar Rivas & Guido Vianello battles Stephan Shaw in a Top Rank-promoted show on January 14th on ESPN at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. The fight card will be shown on ESPN, ESPN+, and ESPN Desports at 10:00 p.m. ET.
The powerful 6’6″ Ajagba (16-1, 13 KOs) takes on the highly ranked bridgerweight Oscar Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs) in a 10-round headliner in an important fight.
This fight will show whether the 28-year-old Ajagba has the talent to a contender in the heavyweight division. If the 2016 Olympian Ajagba can’t beat the smaller Rivas, his future prospects would be poor.
Ajagba already lost to Frank ‘The Cuban Flash’ Sanchez by a 10-round unanimous decision last year in October in a fight in which he failed to make any adjustments.
In the second half of the fight, Sanchez ran away with the fight, using his slickness to outbox the bigger, stronger Ajagba in a surprisingly easy victory.
That performance by Ajagba had to have given Top Rank some misgivings about his future because he looked so utterly clueless against Sanchez, a fighter that he should have been able to defeat due to his power & size advantage.
The 35-year-old Oscar Rivas‘ only career loss came against British heavyweight Dillian Whyte in 2019 in London, England. Rivas knocked Whyte down and was getting the better of him in many of the rounds.
But like in Whyte’s recent controversial victory over Jermaine Franklin last weekend, Rivas found himself on the receiving end of a hometown decision.
Rivas even had Whyte hurt in the 12th, only to have the referee stop the action to give Dillian a breather after he mistakenly thought he’d landed a low blow instead of a shot that was on the belt line.
If Rivas still has anything left, there’s an excellent chance that he’ll outbox Ajagba and beat him by a decision.
In the chief support bout, the Italian 2016 Olympian heavyweight Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (10-0-1, 9 KOs) meets up with the unbeaten American Stephan Shaw (18-0, 13 KOs) in a 10-round fight.
The 6’6″ Vianello has some pop in his punches, but he hasn’t shown the ability that would suggest he will be a major player in the heavyweight division. The 28-year-old Vianello was held to a six-round draw against Kingsley Ibeh in 2020, which was a sign of an uphill climb to become a contender.