Tuesday, September 26, 2023  |



Frank Sanchez outpoints Efe Ajagba over 10 rounds, Helenius beats Kownacki again

Frank Sanchez (L) and Efe Ajagba (R) exchange punches during their 10-round heavyweight bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS – Heavyweight up-and-comers Frank Sanchez and Efe Ajagba, both still early in their professional careers, took a gamble by stepping up to face their most significant opponent so far.

The decision paid off for Sanchez, who fought a very disciplined fight on offense and defense en route to an impressive 10-round unanimous decision. He won 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92 over a highly ineffective Ajagba in the in the co-feature of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III pay-per-view card on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

“The plan was to counterpunch. I’m much faster than him, so the plan was to be defensive and counterpunch,” Sanchez said. “I knew I was going to win all the rounds because I’m much better than him technically. I knew that if I connected, he would fall and he did fall. My game plan was always to frustrate him and go in for the attack. I’m ready for the top-five in the division and a world title.”

There was not a whole lot of action but it was the Eddy Reynoso-Sanchez (19-0, 13 KOs), 29, a Cuba native fighting out of Miami, who was more consistent. He landed clear punches, snapped out his jab and moved to the side against the taller, more lumbering Ajagba. He caught Ajagba with a solid overhand right in the second round and rammed his jab into his face regularly throughout the fight.

The 27-year-old Ajagba (15-1, 12 KOs), a 2016 Olympian for Nigeria, who is based in Houston, had a hard time landing anything clean, much less the big right hand that is his calling card. The 240-pound Sanchez continued to circle to his right and fire stiff jabs.

The 237-pound Ajagba tried to pick up the pace in the seventh round and go to Sanchez’s body but with little effect. Late in the round, Sanchez threw a right hand that grazed Ajagba, who slipped to the mat. While he had his knee down, Sanchez caught him with a left. Referee Mike Ortega called time to allow Ajagba time to recover but did not dock a point from Sanchez for the accidental foul.

Ajagba, who had barely landed anything of note, got through with a right hand late in the ninth round that bounced Sanchez into the ropes in the final seconds.

Helenius beats Kownacki again

Heavyweight Robert Helenius made it 2-for-2 against Adam Kownacki winning by sixth-round knockout of a dominating performance in their WBA title elimination bout.

The fight was an immediate rematch of Helenius’ major upset in a fourth-round knockout victory in March 2020 in Brooklyn that derailed a possible Kownacki title shot.

In the first meeting, Kownacki dominated the first three rounds until Helenius caught him and stopped him in the fourth round. But in the rematch it was all Helenius. He came out fast and had a big first round. The 246-pound Helenius hurt the 258-pound Kownacki multiple times in the first round, rocked him and left him with swelling under his left eye.

Kownacki’s eye was nearly closed by the end of the second round and it was obvious he could not see much out of it.

Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs), 37, of Finland, visibly hurt Kownacki late in the third round with a pair of right hands, after which Kownacki, who was bleeding around his mouth, hit him below the belt with a left hand and was warned by referee Celestino Ruiz just as the round was about to end.

The 32-year-old Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs), a Polish fighter from Brooklyn, New York, hit Helenius low again in the fifth round, Ruiz docked him one point. Helenius had his way the rest of the round, teeing off on Kownacki with an assortment of clean shots, including uppercuts he could not see coming.

Kownacki’s eye was clearly bothering him in the sixth round as he tried to squint to see better but he continued eating punches. After Ruiz separated the fighters later in the sixth round, he had spoke to Kownacki and gave him a good look and decided to wave off the fight at 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

“I had a lot of good shots tonight and he didn’t have any,” Helenius said. “I expected it because, what does he have? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good brawler, but I’ve been fighting brawlers for 20 years. I know how to deal with them, even if they are hitting me low or behind the head. That doesn’t bother me.”

There was confusion afterwards as TV announced a DQ win for Helenius, but the NSAC confirmed the result was a TKO.

As a precaution, Kownacki was taken to University Medical Center for evaluation.

Anderson blows out Tereshkin

Blue chip heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson continued his knockout streak as he rolled through Vladimir Tereshkin with ease, stopping him in the second round.

“The Real Big Baby” Anderson (10-0, 10 KOs), 21, of Toledo, Ohio, dominated the first round and continued to pound away in the second round. He eventually cornered Tereshkin (22-1-1, 12 KOs), a 33-year-old southpaw from Russia, and was landing punches with both hands seemingly at will.

Tereshkin looked over to referee Kenny Bayless as though he did not want to continue and Bayless stepped in waved off the fight at 2:51.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pounds Anderson most likely got much better work as one of Fury’s main sparring partners. Anderson was in Fury’s camp for his second and third fights with Wilder and logged around 100 rounds of sparring with “The Gypsy King.”

“I was a little anxious in the opening round. My first pay-per-view card and all that,” Anderson said. “But I settled in and gave a great performance. I practiced what my coaches preached. On to the next one. I got great work in the gym with Tyson Fury. Iron sharpens iron.”

As long as Anderson came out of the fight no injuries, and he was barely touched by Tereshkin, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told The Ring he is due back in action on Nov. 20 on the undercard of the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter welterweight world title fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.



Bundle and save! Purchase The Ring's Living Legend specials celebrating the careers of Larry Holmes, Felix Trinidad and Julio Cesar Chavez for just $25 while supplies last.