Efe Ajagba was invited to train with Tyson Fury after stopping Brian Howard in the third round of their fight in April
The third part of the heavyweight competition between WBC champion Tyson Fury and his American archenemy and former champion Deontay Wilder on Saturday is already billed as one of the biggest fights of the year.
But one of the stacked undercards in Las Vegas is Efe Ajagba from Nigeria, who claims that after sparring with the British he “can hit harder than Fury”.
The violent nature of Ajagba’s thunderous finish in Brian Howard’s third round in April earned him an invitation to Fury’s training camp as the self-proclaimed Gypsy King prepares to meet Wilder again.
“It was an explosive knockout so they brought me in because they thought I had the same knockout power as Wilder,” Ajagba told BBC Sport Africa.
“Tyson Fury can hit but can’t match my strength. I hit harder than Tyson Fury.
“I could endure the blows he threw (during sparring). (But) he was in the game for years before he became world champion. He fought the top guys.
“I can tell you I learned a lot from the champ; he’s very clumsy, he’s a big guy, he has a long reach. I have a long reach too, and I’m a heavy puncher, but he has a lot “Experience, so I learned so much from him at camp.”
Efe Ajagba (right) has a perfect professional record of 15 wins from 15 fights, 12 of which by knockout
In Ajagba’s opinion, it is Fury’s constant movement that makes him such a dangerous opponent.
“Since I became a professional boxer in America, I’ve never saved up with a guy like this,” added the 27-year-old.
“There is something special about him because he moves back and forth. It is very difficult for you to get close to him because he is constantly moving. It is very difficult for you to hit the target.”
Ajagba hopes to fight Fury in the future
While all eyes will be on Fury and Wilder at the main event in the T-Mobile Arena, the undercard on Saturday will feature a mix of some of the best, experienced and potential heavyweight talent.
One of them is Ajagba, the perfect 15 wins out of 15 fights as well as the record for the fastest win in boxing history after his The opponent was disqualified for leaving the ring a second after the opening bell.
He garnered worldwide attention at the 2016 Olympics with his memorable knockout of Trinidadian Nigel Paul in the first round of their fight, and after Rio de Janeiro he moved to the United States and turned pro.
Working with the idiosyncratic British Fury has been an unforgettable experience for Ajagba that he hopes will be of use in the battles to come.
“He’s the first high profile heavyweight I’ve saved with and that looks good on my balance sheet,” he said. “For the WBC heavyweight champion to train with me, that encourages me.
“It’s great because I hope to fight him in the future, but he’s not the only heavyweight I’ll fight. There are many other top heavyweights out there that I’m looking forward to.”
“If I land a punch, it’s over”
Ajagba faces Frank Sanchez in Nevada, with the undefeated Cuban jeopardizing his WBC Continental Americas heavyweight title.
Trained by two-time Trainer of the Year Eddy Reynoso, who is also the trainer of Four division superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez, Sanchez has 13 knockouts from his 18 wins.
The 29-year-old Cuban is considered by many to be the most popular and superior boxer, while Ajagba is dismissed as a vigorous one-trick pony devoid of any skill, as some say of Wilder.
But Ajagba does not leave out the criticism.
“I see and hear a lot of people say that, but I don’t care,” he replied.
“Like I said, if I land a punch it’s over. Frank Sanchez moves a lot and his plan will be to move and stay out of reach.
“A lot of people keep talking about him being a more skilled fighter. Okay, I agree – but we’ll see on Saturday.”
Frank Sanchez puts his WBC Continental Americas heavyweight title on the line when he takes on Efe Ajagba on Saturday
Ajagba isn’t giving too much away and is hoping that a win over Sanchez and one or two more bouts will soon get him into the talks for the world title.
“Next year,” he says. “Looking for possibly another fight, this was it.
“But I’m looking forward to Sanchez first. Then I’ll see who is there to fight before the World Cup shot.”
Adding the prospect of hitting back one day in Nigeria, Ajagba: “I’m pretty sure it will happen, but I have to speak to my manager and promoter first.
“Lagos will be ideal. It’s the best place to hold a huge boxing event.”