Efe Ajagba promised to exhibit better defense and patience. He delivered on both counts—without sacrificing offense—breaking veteran Razvan Cojanu down until the fight was mercifully stopped at 2:46 of the ninth round.
Last December, Ajagba was floored Iago Kiladze during a moment where he left himself wide open. The undefeated heavyweight from Nigeria would go on to stop Kiladze in five, but there was work to be done back in the gym with trainer Ronnie Shields.
Ajagba, 25, 13-0 (11 KOs), showed consistent head movement and counterpunching skills against a crafty Cojanu (17-7, 9 KOs). But it was his jab that was the dominant punch. The rounds were competitive early on.
Cojanu went on the attack in the second, but Ajagba fought him off, working the body to establish distance for his heavy jab. Occasionally, he’d land a right and deftly move out the way of the return fire.
The jab, and the body work, helped break Cojanu down. But the Romanian didn’t go down without a fight. After eating a three-punch combination in the sixth, Cojanu motioned for more. Ajagba obliged, landing another volley that momentarily stunned his opponent. But Cojanu fired back with a hard right of his own.
Cojanu landed two more rights in the seventh, but Ajagba was unbothered, steadily pumping his stick and digging downstairs. By the eighth, Cojanu was a spent force. A beautiful right hand followed by a left caused Cojanu to take a knee. He rose to his feet and was badly staggered by a left hook. He was saved by a bell that rang moments later.
Ajagba unloaded the arsenal in the ninth, battering Cojanu until another clean combo dropped Cojanu, forcing referee Ron Lipton to wave it off.
“Cojanu has a lot of experience,” said Ajagba. “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.”
Ajagba is fast rising up the heavyweight rankings and he wants no soft touches along the way.
“It’s up to my team who we fight next, but I want hard fights,” said Ajagba. “My team has a plan and we’ll keep following it.”