Frank Sanchez easily outpointed Efe Ajagba to win an eagerly-awaited showdown of two unbeaten heavyweight prospects in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The ‘Cuban Flash’, hailing from the all-powerful Eddy Reynoso stable, showed terrific technical skills to coast to a comfortable victory against an opponent who just could not decode the problem in front of him.
Sanchez (now 19-0 with 13 wins inside distance) produced the only knockdown of a very technical affair in the seventh round en route to a unanimous decision victory by scores of 97-92 and 98-91 twice on the Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3 undercard.
Ajagba (15-1) meanwhile will be hugely disappointed with his performance after failing to utilise that powerful right hand that had marked him down as a potential star of the future.
Sanchez showcases technical skills
The opening round show Sanchez show early that he possessed the superior speed and technical skills. He showed nice feints and head movement and regularly beat Ajagba to the punch with counters and the occasional chopping right hand.
The second was harder to score, but again Sanchez produce the moments of real quality – in particular a lovely right which drew gasps from the crowd in T-Mobile Arena. Ajagba meanwhile was trying to establish that left jab and to control centre ring.
Round three was a little better from Ajagba as he did start to put more pressure on Sanchez – and he did land a nice right hand to show the ‘Cuban Flash’ that he meant business. Sanchez though responded with a lovely combination.
Another three minutes to excite the purist more than the casual were the order of the day in the fourth. Ajagba continued to try and cut the ring off but he was waiting too long to try and get his shots off. The result was Sanchez being able to avoid punches and land the odd classy counter of his own.
The crowd clearly wanted more action as the technical stuff continued in the fifth, with Sanchez again waiting for Ajagba to commit before countering. Sanchez landed the best shot of the session, a lovely right when Ajagba speared out his left.
It was a tough fight to score so far, would the judges prefer the come-forward style of Ajagba or the classy counters from Sanchez? All the crowd wanted though was action as boos started to ring out in the arena during the sixth. There was very little of note in the round as the bout reached halfway. The only moment which raised any reaction from the crowd was Sanchez missing wildly with a left.
Ajagba down in Round 7
The bout suddenly produced furious action as we entered the final 30 seconds of a dull seventh as Sanchez produced a right and a left hook to send Ajagba to the deck. It was ruled a knockdown and surely gave the Cuban a significant advantage heading into the final three sessions of this 10-rounder.
Sanchez began the eighth well to follow up on that success in the seventh, snapping Ajagba’s head back with a lovely uppercut. The Nigerian though did improve as the round went on, pressuring Sanchez and landing with a nice body shot and then a right to the head.
Ajagba appeared to need significant success in the last two rounds and he did finally land a lovely right late in the ninth. It was the only real action of the session though and Ajagba’s corner told him between rounds he now needed a knockout heading into the 10th.
The final round was a familiar script, as Sanchez was again content to box smartly off the back foot while Ajagba – much to his corner’s frustration – just could not pull the trigger.
Sanchez ended the fight convinced he had prevailed, and the scorecards confirmed it as he claimed victory on all three to maintain his perfect professional record.