By: Sean Crose
The undefeated 18-0 Stephan Shaw and the 16-1 Efe Ajagba headlined an ESPN televised card from New York’s Turning Stone Resort and Casino on Saturday night. Their heavyweight match was scheduled for ten rounds, and was broadcast live on ESPN. Both men were skilled and were part of the new crop of heavyweights making their way through the division’s ranks. In other words, the bout meant a lot to these fighters.
Each man employed his jab in the first, but Shaw’s was a bit sharper. The second round saw Shaw employing superior footwork while Ajagba pursued his man behind a long jab. Things remained rather slow in the third, as each man looked to land effectively. Ajagba continued to pursue Shaw in the fourth while Shaw was content keeping his distance. Shaw began firing his right with a degree of frequency in the fifth. Still, it was clear that, for the time being at least, Shaw preferred defense to offense.
Sadly, the fight was boring.
Things remained slow in the sixth. The fight was close and both men had their moments – Shaw, for instance, seemed to be controlling the tempo at the moment – but there didn’t seem to be much urgency on the part of either combatant. Ajagba fired hard with his right in the seventh. In the eighth it was clear that Ajagba was at least trying to make the fight. Shaw’s contentedness in fighting with considerable caution was keeping things slow paced.
By the ninth, one had to wonder whether Shaw was just not feeling well. He simply wasn’t letting his hands go. The crowd began to boo. “No sense of urgency,” ESPN broadcaster Timothy Bradley rightfully claimed. The tenth and final round saw a more active Shaw, but still a Shaw being held back by a sense of caution. Suffice to say, Ajagba won by unanimous decision.
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