Ajagba vs Shaw, Vianello vs Rice on Jan.14th live on ESPN in Verona, New York
By Brian Webber: Four-time U.S national champion Stephen Shaw will move into the main event slot to take on 2016 Olympian Efe Ajagba in heavyweight action in a 10 round scheduled bout, live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on January 14th. The event will start at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Ajagba (16-1, 13 KOs) had been scheduled to face Oscar Rivas, but he suffered a detached retina in training and had to be replaced. Luckily for the 28-year-old Ajagba, the unbeaten Shaw (18-0, 13 KOs) could be moved up from the chief support spot to battle him in the headliner.
For the 6’6″ Ajagba, this is a more challenging fight than the one he had been scheduled against in cruiserweight Rivas. The 6’4″ Shaw has good size and can punch with either hand.
More importantly, Shaw possesses boxing skills that will trouble Ajagba, who struggles against boxers, as we saw in his recent 10 round unanimous decision defeat at the hands of the undefeated Cuban Frank Sanchez last year in October 2021.
Top Rank thought it was time to step Ajagba up against a top-tier opponent in Sanchez, but the plan backfired on them in a major way. Sanchez gave the robotic Ajagba a boxing lesson in that fight, easily beating him by a lopsided 10 round decision.
In the chief support bout, heavyweight prospect Guido Vianello (10-0-1, 9 KOs)0 will take on the capable Jonnie Rice (15-6-1, 10 KOs) in a 10 round bout.
This is a risky fight for the 2016 U.S Olympian Vianello, as he was held to a six round draw against the unheralded Kingsley Ibeh in 2020. Rice can punch, as Vianello is there to be hit.
Also on the card is supper featherweight Adam ‘Blunose’ Lopez fighting Abraham Nova in a 10 round fight. Some would say this fight is better than the main event bout between Ajagba and Shaw.
“Stephan Shaw, my fighter, is going to be fighting Efe Ajagba on January 14th,” said promoter Lou DiBella to Secondsout.
“Oscar Rivas was going to be fighting Ajagba, but Rivas has a detached retina. So they moved Shaw from the co-feature into the fight with Ajagba.
“If Shaw wins that fight, he’s going to be a major player next year in the division. I think we’re heading towards an American vs. American match-up eventually with Jared Anderson and Stephan Shaw. That excites me,” said DiBella.
“Stephan Shaw stepped up and has a tough task against one of the division’s biggest punchers in Efe Ajagba,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
“We’re pleased that Guido [Vianello] will remain on the card against a formidable opponent in Jonnie Rice. This will be a fantastic heavyweight doubleheader at Turning Stone,” said Arum.
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