Efe Ajagba Promises to Bring His A-Game Against Brian Howard
When fans and pundits discuss the future of the heavyweight division, Efe Ajagba’s (14-0, 11 KOs) name often comes up. If it is a question of stature, it is not hard to see why. From a sheer physical standpoint, the 26-year-old from Ughelli, Nigeria seems to have it all. At 6’6” with reach and power in both hands, he certainly cuts an imposing figure. He has the look of a potential force.
Since turning pro in July of 2017, he has obliterated most of his opponents. But in his last bout, something was different. On September 19, 2020, Ajagba stepped into the ring to face relatively unknown Jonathan Rice. The Nigerian was expected to make easy work of his opponent, but that was not the case. Though Ajagba won by comfortable unanimous decision on the scorecards, the action in the ring told a different story. The explosiveness that created such a buzz was not evident. He looked flat and disinterested. The only thing that was consistent with him on the night was the jab. As it turned out, the power-punching heavyweight hurt his right hand during the fight.
The man who is nicknamed “The One and Only” returns to action on April 10. He faces Brian Howard (15-4, 12 KOs) in a 10-round contest at the Osage Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on ESPN.
Ajagba sat down for a virtual press conference for the boxing media on April 5. In terms of talent, Howard is comparable to Rice in terms of record and ability. For the big man from Nigeria, he says the upcoming fight against Howard is about redemption. He acknowledged his performance against Rice was not good but promises a different story when he faces Howard.
“In my last fight against Jonathan Rice, I was not fully prepared. I was trying to do a lot of stuff, a lot of things in my head. But right now, I’m 100 percent focused. Against Jonathan Rice, I was not fully prepared enough, so that’s why I went the distance with him.”
NO MORE DRAMA
A month before his fight against Rice, Ajagba began working with his new trainer Kay Karoma. He also had just inked a new promotional deal with Top Rank. In his estimation, distractions in and out of the ring played a role in how he fought. This time around, he feels much more comfortable. Believing he has had proper time to prepare with Karoma, the hard work will pay off on fight night.
As he explained to the press, to reach his full potential, it is about staying active and sharp.
“Right now I’m in a new promotional contract. So, they tried to slow me down a little bit in terms of activity. But this Saturday night, I’m going to prove to myself. Everything I worked on, I’m going to show you in my fight.
I’m going to stay active to make sure I step into the big fights. That’s the only way to get to the big fights is to stay active, that’s it.”
Can Ajagba return to form and show the dominance and potential that had fans buzzing, or were the struggles against Rice an indication that there are chinks in his armor? We find out when he steps in against Howard.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.