Ajagba vs Vianello results, scorecards and analysis from a thriller in Texas

Efe Ajagba was given a major scare before claiming a narrow victory in his heavyweight showdown with Italian Guido Vianello in Corpus Christi, Texas on Saturday night.

The 29-year-old Texas-based Nigerian spoke before this Top Rank show about his desire to face the winner of that Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk unification fight. But based on Saturday night’s events, he is still some way off that level.

Ajagba did claim a split decision victory after a thoroughly entertaining scrap to improve his record to 20-1 (with 14 inside distance). But he was given a real scare by the scrappy Vianello (12-1-2) when caught by a big right hand late in Round 2.

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Efe recovered swiftly though and while never able to really hurt Vianello badly, did box smartly at times and scored regularly with uppercuts. Guido meanwhile displayed good hand speed and real heart to maintain a strong pace right through to the finish.

Ajagba in trouble early

Vianello (244.5lbs) started the more impressive of the two fighters, using a stiff double jab and straight right hand regularly in the opening session. He displayed the better hand speed and was managing to connect despite a significant reach disadvantage (85 inches to 79 inches).

Ajagba (241.2lbs) for his part made a slow start, occasionally throwing out a left jab and following up with his powerful right. But as yet he was unable to make a dent in the Las Vegas-based Italian.

The second round brought major problems for Ajagba in a shocking turn of events. Vianello again looked competitive as he continued to throw more punches, but Efe appeared to be growing into the fight as he controlled centre ring and put the Italian on the back foot.

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Things changed in a big way late in the session though as a retreating Ajagba was caught by a big Vianello right late in the session. He was almost out on his feet as he tried to make it to the bell with Guido piling in for the finish. Ajagba did make it to the bell but he appeared to be in major trouble. Could he recover between rounds?

The third round provided terrific action as both men threw punches in bunches and landed regularly, with defence hardly ever a thought. Ajagba for his part appeared to have come through that awful finish to the second, while Vianello continued to bring gusto and impressive hand speed to the table.

Efe recovers well

Round four was Ajagba’s best of the night so far as he dominated, claiming centre ring and forcing Vianello to move and fight off the back foot. The Italian’s pace and punch output was slowing after that blistering start, and he was hurt by two big Efe uppercuts – the first a left hand and later in the round a right.

Ajagba dominated most of Round 5 as he started to become more productive with the jab and started to mix in attacks to the body. Just when it looked like Vianello might be on the way out though, he produced a stellar finish to the session with a nice combination and a sustained flurry of punches. It was a valiant showing from the Italian.

Vianello was clearly breathing a little harder in Round 6 – understandable given the amount of effort he’d put into the first half of the bout. He was still able to stand toe to toe with Ajagba and go punch for punch. He was again caught by an Ajagba uppercut early in the session though.

The pace slowed markedly in the seventh, but it was a good round for Ajagba as he did a good job of controlling the action. He was landing uppercuts almost at will as Vianello lunged into range and paid the price on a regular basis. The Italian’s punches were still coming thick and fast, but not with the pop they had earlier in the night.

Ajagba turns southpaw

Ajagba switched to a southpaw stance for Round 8 and it worked nicely as he controlled the action with a stiff right jab and again mixed in uppercuts which landed regularly. Vianello was still showing great heart but he didn’t appear to have the power to really hurt the Nigerian star any more.

Efe Ajagba Press Conference vs Frank Sanchez Las Vegas 2021
Efe Ajagba speaks before facing Frank Sanchez in an eagerly-awaited heavyweight showdown in Las Vegas in October 2021 (Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions).

The penultimate session saw Ajagba again start well out of that southpaw stance, landing a lovely combination followed by an uppercut which really stopped Vianello in his tracks. The Italian was kept on the end of that Ajagba jab before producing his usual spirited finish to the round in an attempt to impress the judges.

The power may have long left Vianello’s punches, but he really emptied the tank in the 10th and final round with a spirited rally. Ajagba meanwhile was unable to land anything really meaningful with the Italian making it a messy but entertaining end to the evening. To the scorecards we would go…

Official scorecards

After a long wait for the official verdict, we got the scorecards and it was very close:

Judge 1: 96-94 Vianello

Judge 2: 96-94 Ajagba

Judge 3: 96-94 Ajagba

Ajgaba vs Vianello results

Ajagba wins by split decision and retains his WBC silver heavyweight title.