Frank Sanchez is absolutely certain that Efe Ajagba will take a steeper step up in competition than him Saturday night.
The Cuban-born Sanchez considers himself by far the best opponent Ajagba will have faced in four years as a pro. Ajagba is 15-0 and has won 12 of his professional fights by knockout, but Sanchez is sure he’ll give Ajagba looks that the huge Nigerian heavyweight hasn’t seen since he made his pro debut in July 2017.
“I really don’t feel anyone that he has fought has my technical abilities,” Sanchez told BoxingScene.com, “or any of my abilities, not even close.”
The 27-year-old Ajagba, a 2016 Olympian, is the highest-profile foe Sanchez has been scheduled to box since Sanchez made his own pro debut in September 2017. Sanchez acknowledged Ajagba’s power, yet he just doesn’t see anything special in the 6-feet-6, 240-pound opponent he’ll encounter on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Look, I’m not too concerned,” Sanchez said. “It’s really not a big difference. The one weapon that he has is the right hand, and if I take that away, I don’t think it’s any different than anyone else I’ve fought. He’s got one big weapon. All I have to do is take that away and it’ll be the same as everything else.”
The 6-feet-4, 235-pound Sanchez (18-0, 13 KOs) has won two of his past three bouts by knockout, though the 29-year-old contender is considered more of a boxer-puncher. Ajagba has won three of his past four fights by knockout or technical knockout, but he showed vulnerability on his way to the first of those three stoppages.
Iago Kiladze came back from a second-round knockdown to drop Ajagba in the third round of their December 2019 fight at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. Ajagba withstood that trouble and floored Kiladze again in the fifth round, when Kiladze’s trainer later threw in the towel.
The Ajagba-Sanchez winner will legitimize himself as a heavyweight contender.
“This is the fight that obviously is an enormous opportunity,” Sanchez said. “I wanna demonstrate every ability that I have in this fight. I’m gonna bring everything.”
The Caesars Sportsbook has installed Sanchez as a 2-1 favorite over Ajagba ahead of their 10-rounder. Their fight will be the second of three undercard bouts that’ll constitute the ESPN/FOX Sports Pay-Per-View portion of the Fury-Wilder undercard (9 p.m. EDT; $79.99).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.