It came as a bit of a surprise to the boxing world when Nigerian heavyweight boxer Efe Ajagba quit Al Haymon’s PBC to sign with Top Rank, a promotion outfit that manages fighters such as WBO featherweight champion, Óscar Valdez, WBC Light Welterweight champion, Jose Ramírez, WBO Welterweight champion, Terence Crawford, two-time heavyweight world champion, Tyson Fury, and current WBA (Super) welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao.
Reports indicate that Ajagba bought out the remainder of his contract under Golden Boy Promotions after spending three years with the outfit.
While this might have stirred up a bit of controversy on the boxing scene, Ajagba told boxingscene.com that he “made this decision to become a better boxer and to advance my career.”
Standing at 6’6″ with a reach of about 88.0″ (224cm), sports conscious Nigerians would wonder why such a person does not play basketball. For Efe Ajagba, that was not even his first choice. With his athletic physique, he always thought he would become a pro footballer, however, he found boxing.
As a 17-year-old, Ajagba realised that his dreams of playing on the lush green grass in front of thousands of spectators might never come true. Fortunately, a friend advised him to try out boxing.
Exhaustive training coupled with the motivation to make something of himself, under instruction from Anthony Konyegwachie, Ajagba developed his skills to the level of contesting at international tournaments flying Nigeria’s flag.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, Scotland, Ajagba competed in the super heavyweight division and made it to the semifinals where he defeated Australia’s Joseph Goodall, finishing in third place to claim the bronze medal.
At the 11th Africa Games of Brazzaville 2015, Ajagba was Nigeria’s contender in the super heavyweight division. There, his technicality and evident difference from his peers won him the gold medal.
Of the ten boxers from Nigeria during the 2016 Rio Olympics Qualification Tournament, Ajagba won the gold medal and was the only Nigerian selected. It was in Rio that his star shined brighter despite losing in the quarterfinals of the super heavyweight division. In the preliminary round of the +91kg bout, he finished Trinidad & Tobago’s Nigel Paul in the first round after just 23 seconds.
Since turning pro, 26-year-old Ajagba has stayed undefeated with 11 knockouts coming from 13 wins. This includes his record-breaking fight against Curtis Harper which is the fastest victory in boxing history. All these have earned him the moniker – The One and Only.
It has been a long time coming for the revival of the heavyweight division and Ajagba’s move to Top Rank will see him feature on ESPN Ringside, allowing him to fight his way up the ladder on his quest to become a “well-rounded fighter”.