LAS VEGAS – Frank Sanchez demonstrated exactly what he said before Saturday night, that he could take away Efe Ajagba’s right hand and out-box him.
The Cuban-born Sanchez carefully out-pointed the huge Nigerian knockout artist in their 10-round heavyweight fight on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard at T-Mobile Arena. Judges Lisa Giampa (98-91), John McKaie (97-92) and David Sutherland (98-91) all scored Sanchez a convincing winner of this high-stakes pay-per-view co-feature.
Sanchez (19-0, 13 KOs) defended himself well against Ajagba’s right hand and occasionally landed power shots on the slower Ajagba (15-1, 12 KOs). The 29-year-old Sanchez didn’t exactly entertain the crowd, but he boxed in a cautious way that enabled him to win pretty easily.
Ajagba struggled to land clean punches during the ninth and 10th rounds, when he appeared to need a knockout to win. Sanchez didn’t engage much in those rounds, either, but he landed enough to build on his lead.
The best exchange came in the 10th round, when Ajagba landed a right and Sanchez connected with a left almost simultaneously.
Sanchez, with his back to the ropes, landed a three-punch combination early in the eighth round that won it for him. He didn’t land many more effective shots during the rest of that round, but Ajagba couldn’t connect with any meaningful punches in those three minutes.
Sanchez seemed to score a knockdown with less than 30 seconds to go in the seventh round. Sanchez hit Ajagba with a right hand that seemed to send Ajagba to one knee.
Sanchez hit him again, though, with a left hook while Ajagba was down. Ortega didn’t count it as a knockdown.
Sanchez stayed away from Ajagba for most of the sixth round, which eventually caused the crowd to boo. Ajagba did land a left hand late in the sixth round and although Sanchez went down in that sequence, Ortega ruled that Sanchez slipped to the canvas.
Neither fighter did much during the fourth round, but Ajagba was aggressive at the start the fifth round.
Sanchez connected with an overhand right 55 seconds into the third round. An uneventful third round changed when Sanchez blasted Ajagba with a right hand that excited the crowd with about 1:15 to go in it.
Sanchez backed away to avoid Ajagba’s right hand from long range about 25 seconds into the second round. Sanchez countered Ajagba with a hard right hand with about 1:25 to go in the second round.
Sanchez snuck in a right hand about 1:15 into the first round. Sanchez also landed a jab toward the end of the opening round, in which Ajagba had trouble landing.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.