Monday, June 05, 2023  |


Efe Ajagba blasts out Razvan Cojanu on Fox Fight Night

Efe Ajagba weigh-in (Photo by Sean Michael Ham/PBC)
Fighters Network

BROOKLYN, NY — Efe Ajagba was looking up in the ring for the first time in his young professional career. The undefeated Nigerian heavyweight has never faced anyone taller than him—until Saturday night on the Adam Kownacki-Robert Helenius undercard on the “FOX PBC Fight Night” before 8,811 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

As they met to touch gloves at center ring, the 6-foot-6 Ajagba was glaring up at the 6-foot-7½ Razvan Cojanu.

The ironic thing is—Ajagba is afraid of heights.

The 2016 Olympian dispelled that by chopping down Cojanu with an efficient, impressive 9th-round stoppage over Cojanu.

“It was a good win, but I wanted Efe to do better,” said Ronnie Shields, Ajagba’s esteemed trainer. “Efe punches faster and harder than what he showed. He was looking for one shot. As soon as he started hitting (Cojanu) with multiple shots, that’s when the fight was over.

“He should have done it earlier, so it didn’t have to go nine rounds.”

Ajagba was pleased, but he knows he has more work ahead.

“Cojanu has a lot of experience,” Ajagba said. “When I threw my jab, he used his right hand to block my vision, so I couldn’t throw as many combinations as I wanted. It was a good challenge.

“Ronnie told me to attack the body behind the jab. It was very effective and it started to slow him down. When he got close to me, I knew to throw more and punish him.

“It’s up to my team who we fight next, but I want hard fights. My team has a plan and we’ll keep following it.”

Ajagba (13-0, 11 knockouts) was looking to get back to his dominating form after being knocked down for the first time in his career in the third round of his last fight.

In many ways, he did.

Through the first two rounds, Ajagba used distance well. He had outlanded Cojanu, 31-16, and worked well up and down, cleaving Cojanu’s high guard and dropping an occasional body shot, which forced Cojanu’s arms to sink.

Midway through the fourth, Ajagba had upped the punch difference to 72-50. He appeared in control and began working the body more frequently to soften up Cojanu.

After four, Ajagba had more than doubled Cojanu’s punch output, 80-38. The numbers were backed by Ajagba’s steady, patient attack. He didn’t rush anything. He stayed in the pocket and carefully pecked away at Cojanu.

In the sixth, Cojanu opened up for about 30 seconds, then went back to accepting Ajagba’s punches. Referee Ron Lipton called an unintentional low blow by Cojanu in the early portion of the round.

But Cojanu did nothing to show he was interested in winning, as much as he was about surviving. A welt began building on Cojanu’s forehead, though it never opened into a cut.

Cojanu could only resort to sticking out his tongue and making odd facial expressions. It did not phase Ajagba. He kept his head down and went back to work.

With :58 left in the eighth, Cojanu took a knee after being slammed on the temple with an Ajagba right. As the round was winding down, Lipton looked on the verge of stopping it, but let the fighters continue.

Cojanu, with his right eye swelling, was warned by Lipton with :34 left in the ninth that he was taking too many shots. Cojanu genuflected against the ropes 20 seconds later and put his left arm up in surrender.

The official end came at 2:46.

Ajagba landed a total of 244 (40 body)/664 (36.7%) punches, 68 (7)/329 (20.7%) jabs and 176 (33)/335 (52.5%) power shots. Ajagba’s power shots more than doubled Cojanu’s total punch output (83(20)/405 (20.5%) total, 2/78 (2.6%) jabs and 81 (20)/327 (24.8%) power shots).

“I expected better from myself, because Cojanu was tired,” Ajagba said. “Ronnie kept telling me to stay behind the jab. This time, I was patient. I hit him in his chin, he went down. It was a beautiful right hand. It’s why I won the fight easy.”

Brooklyn junior welterweight Zachary Ochoa (21-1, 7 KOs) ran his winning streak to five-straight with an eight-round unanimous decision over Angel Sarinana (10-10-3, 4 KOs).

It had been 18 months since Ochoa last fought. In the meantime, he had switched trainers, got out of a contractual issue and he had a tough opponent to face.

When asked what he liked about his performance, Ochoa said, “I liked that I actually fought. I got to work out some things that I needed to work on, and it felt good in there.

“I felt happy about my performance, because I knew what was coming. But I’ll be way better than that. I have to feel comfortable in the ring again.”

Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, from Philadelphia, is Ochoa’s new trainer. Edwards has worked for years with former junior middleweight titlist Julian “J-Rock” Williams.

“Zach is a good kid and I like him a lot,” Edwards said. “He showed me everything I knew he had. He has a lot of guts. He’s determined. He had a very good, dedicated training camp.

“He came down to Philly and did a really, really good job. I’m proud of him. That wasn’t an easy comeback fight. We still have to work on balance, his jab and him just used to me and me getting used to him. He did really well.”

In a scheduled six-round welterweight bout, Arnold Gonzalez (4-0, 1 KO) garnered his first kayo by stopping Traye Labby (4-5-4, 3 KOs) at 2:07 of the third round. Francis Hogan, a 19-year-old middleweight from Weymouth, Massachusetts, won his pro debut by stopping Brent Oren (2-4, 0 KO) with a left hook to the body at 2:11 of the fourth in a scheduled four-rounder.

In an upset, heavyweight Carlos Negron (21-3, 17 KOs) handed Robert Alfonso (19-1-1, 9 KOs) his first defeat, stopping him at 2:03 of the first round. Heavyweight Steven Torres (3-0, 3 KOs) closed the card by knocking out Alex Ajabor (2-1, 1 KO) at 2:33 of the second.


Latest Issue Cover