Nigerian heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba stretched his unbeaten record to 14 wins after a unanimous points victory over America’s Jonathan Rice in a 10-round clash in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Judge Max DeLuca had the bout 98-92, while judges Adalaide Byrd and Dave Moretti scored it 99-91 in favor of Ajagba.
The bout was his first since signing with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank outfit, and with boxing managerial powerhouse James Prince. It was also his debut with renowned cornerman Kay Koroma as his new head trainer. Ajagba was 131-of-406 in total punches (32%), far exceeding the pedestrian effort of Rice who was just 39-of-269 (14%) according to Compubox, scoring predominantly off his ramrod jabs. He had stopped 11 of his previous 13 opponents in explosive fashion, but his performance against rice failed to live up to those high standards.
The last occasion where Ajagba was taken the distance also came in Nevada, when he outpointed previously unbeaten Ali Eren Demirezen last July at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. That fight saw Ajagba fight through an injured elbow for much of the night. Reports say the 26-year old Ughelli-born heavyweight also injured his right hand in his fight on Sunday against Rice.
On his part, Rice suffered his second straight defeat, falling to 13-6-1 (9KOs), both coming versus unbeaten opposition. The 33-year old journeyman was stopped in the 10th and final round of a March 7 clash versus Demsey McKean in Queensland, Australia.
Just last week, Ajagba had talked up a potential clash with WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. But that fight will have to wait much longer following his lackluster showing on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in the main event between two 2008 Olympians, former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza of Perto Rico defeated American Javier Molina on points.