Will Efe Ajagba Return to Form on August 27?
In boxing, fighters often find it hard to bounce back from a devastating first career-defeat. They can deal with losing a close fight, but to be totally outclassed or savagely knocked out takes something out of them. Heavyweight hopeful Efe “The One And Only” Ajagba (15-1, 12KO) has fallen under the first category and needs to make a comeback before he is forgotten.
THE RISE FROM THE BOTTOM
Ajagba first made his bones fighting under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. In 2018, the 28-year-old Nigerian became the topic of discussion when challenger Curtis Harper infamously walked out of the ring after the start of their fight. In 2019, he earned his stripes by getting up off the canvas to stop Iago Kiladze in the fifth round.
Ajagba made headlines in 2020 by leaving PBC and signing with manager J. Prince, and inking a deal with rival promotion Top Rank. Things were looking up for the tall power-puncher as he continued to raise his stock by running over all that was in the ring against him.
THE FALL FROM THE TOP
On the undercard of the trilogy between WBC champion Tyson Fury versus former champion Deontay Wilder, Ajagba agreed to fight another hot prospect in Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez in October 2021. Many pundits, as well as this author, predicted the winner making a push towards a championship bout.
Sanchez dominated the fight with pure boxing ability. Ajagba looked lost in the fight and touched the canvas in round seven en route to a unanimous decision beatdown. To make matters even worse, Sanchez shot up the rankings, holding spots inside the top five by both the WBC and WBO. Ajagba has dropped out of sight, and he is not ranked within the top 15 by any of the four major sanctioning bodies.
TO A HOPEFUL RISE AGAIN
Ajagba has not returned to the ring since the sole blemish on his record. He is due to return to the ring in an eight-rounder against Jozsef Darmos on August 27. Sometimes a long layoff can hurt a fighter after taking such a bad loss. Alternatively, they come back stronger, looking to reclaim what was lost. This is the moment of truth for Ajagba, who will need to look impressive in the return fight and look to reclaim his spot in the division. He can still be a force in the division but first, he will need to push the Sanchez defeat out of his mind and prove he is mentally ready to resume his career.
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By: Garrisson Bland