By Peter Akinbo.
Efe Ajagba‘s opponent for his headliner bout on January 14, Stephan Shaw, is excited to face the Nigerian in what is the biggest fight of his career.
Shaw will fight Ajagba at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on Saturday as the main card event, a first in his career and for Shaw, his boxing career has finally headed in the direction he wanted.
“Just overnight,” he said, adding, “my life is about to change.”
Shaw is also loving the pressure that comes with being in a big fight of this nature.
“I love it,” he added. “This is what I signed up for. And this is just all the kind of perks and stuff that I wanted, man. All of this kind of stuff comes with being one of the best fighters in the world. I’m right at home.”
Shaw made his professional debut in 2013 and hasn’t lost since, winning 13 fights by knockouts and rising to the 28th-best heavyweight in the world along the way. He also received a job as the sparring partner for former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Despite the victories, Shaw’s career has been full of roadblocks, long layoffs, cancelled contracts and an overwhelming feeling that, regardless of his talent, his career has failed to progress fast enough. For years, he fought in empty gyms, made little money and contemplated quitting the sport.
“It’s beautiful, bro,” Shaw says. “It’s something that I pray about. I feel like God answered my prayers. … When they asked me about this opportunity I jumped on it.”
But Saturday won’t be an easy fight. Shaw will take on Ajagba, a 6-foot-6 powerful puncher from Nigeria who is currently ranked as the 32nd best heavyweight boxer in the world, according to BoxingRec. He will be the most formidable opponent of Shaw’s career. Ajagba previously fought on the undercard of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder III, where he suffered his only loss to Frank Sanchez.
“You can’t take anybody for granted, and I’m not taking him for granted at all,” Shaw says. “But like I said before, I’m definitely gonna go in there defensively responsible and that’s how you’re supposed to be as a fighter. The art of boxing is to hit and not get hit. I try to master that.”
Initially, Shaw was set to take on undefeated Italian heavyweight, Guido Vianello, while Ajagba was to fight current bridgerweight title holder, Óscar Rivas. But after Rivas backed out of the fight due to an eye injury, Shaw stepped in to fight Ajagba.