Future business conducted by Efe Ajagba will take place under new management.
The unbeaten heavyweight prospect has become the latest to join the growing stable of high-powered boxing manager James Prince. The news was announced by both parties through their respective social media platforms amidst an otherwise slow boxing weekend.
“Welcome to the J. Prince Boxing family, Efe Ajagba” Prince revealed on his verified Instagram account. “The real Nigerian King he hits harder than [former heavyweight titlist Deontay] Wilder. #jprinceboxing #wewin #thewinnerscircle #thewinningteam #mobties.”
The move marks the second significant prospect signing for Prince during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a testament to his ability to close a good deal. The hip hop mogul and longtime boxing manager inked junior lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr. to a managerial pact in mid-May, shortly before the Stockton, California returned to the ring this past June in an ESPN-televised main event.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Prince will serve in more of an advisory capacity to Ajagba, who is currently managed by Shelly Finkel and promoted by Richard Schaefer's Ringstar Promotions.
Prince has managed some of the sport’s most prominent figures, including three separate pound-for-pound kings within the past 25 years alone. The Houston-born businessman served as manager to Floyd Mayweather Jr. during the early years of a career which would span five weight divisions. Prince also managed the likes of former four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. and unbeaten former two-division champion Andre Ward—the latter whom currently co-manages rising unbeaten former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson.
The hope now is to turn bigger into better, though he has been given a generous head start.
“Things just got real. Big thanks to J Prince for embracing me,” stated Ajagba, who is coming off of a 9th round knockout of Razvan Cojanu this past March at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. “It’s only up from here.”
Ajagba (13-0, 11KOs) represented his native Nigeria in the 2016 Rio Olympics, falling one round short of securing a medal. The 6’6” heavyweight relocated to Houston in June 2017, one month prior to his pro debut and where he trains with renowned cornerman Ronnie Shields.
All but one of Ajagba’s bouts have taken place on the undercard of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) shows. The alliance has led a faction of the industry obsessively gleeful over the perceived failure of anything PBC-related to interpret the move as the action of a disgruntled client.
The opposite is true, as Ajagba's placement on PBC events for 12 of his 13 pro bouts was done so as a courtesy to Schaefer and Finkel. At no point during said arrangement did his time spent on PBC shows come out of contractual obligation to a managerial conglomerate that generally allows free will even to its signed clients.
Ajagba has been a regular fixture on PBC on Fox and PBC on FS1 undercards. One infamous moment came in August 2018, when the muscle-bound heavyweight was left to stand in the ring without an opponent to punch back as Curtis Harper fled the scene at the opening bell of their FS1-televised matchup.
The cowardly act resulted in the end of Ajagba’s knockout streak, having stopped each of his first five opponents before having to settle for a disqualification win. Four more knockouts followed before being extended the distance for the lone time in his career, taking a 10-round decision over Ali Eren Demirezen in their Fox-televised matchup of unbeaten heavyweights last July in Las Vegas.
One fight later came his stiffest test to date, showcasing his fighting heart. Ajagba suffered the first knockdown of his career, hitting the deck in the third round of an eventual 5th round stoppage of Iago Kiladze in their wild Fox-televised slugfest last December in Ontario, California.
The five months between fights remains his longest inactive stretch, although the current coronavirus pandemic currently has the 26-year old heavyweight more than four months removed from his last ring appearance. Not attached with the change of management announcement is whether Ajagba will also align himself with a new promoter.
For now, he’s willing to put his faith in the hands of the new guiding force in his career.
“Patiently waiting to get back in the ring and knock some heads off,” insists Ajagba.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox