In a rather mild-mannered weekend of fights, the main event from the Tahoe Blue Events Center in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, we saw 2016 heavyweight Olympian Efe Ajagba stop Joe Goodall at 50 seconds of the fourth round to make a statement in the heavyweight division.
Ajagba used his reach and physical gifts behind a good jab to implement a fight that would be fought at his pace and on his terms. It was clear early on the only success Goodall would have would be on the inside and referee Tony Weeks was not allowing clinching which can be a vessel to in-fighting.
With Zhilei Zhang sitting ringside, the WBO interim heavyweight world champion, the two fought a meaningful grueling fight that the fans learned to love as the big shots landed by Ajagba in the third round started to get large cheers from a crowd ready to go home happy. The success of Ajagba led Goodall to be a bit more reckless forcing the fight to the inside, as the jabs of Ajagba continued to cause great discomfort for Goodall. Goodall’s best success came from leaping in with overhand rights, but he couldn’t follow the punches up in sequence.
Back to the fight, it was the classic case of a little versus a lot. Ajagba was doing a little, but getting a lot done, whereas Goodall had to do a lot to get very little done. The fourth round saw Ajagba land the cleanest right hand of the fight and visibly hurt Goodall, who was stopped on his feet.
Ajagba flexed while looking at the crowd, and oddly some fans booed the outcome, wanting to see more action. Keep in mind none of the referee Tony Weeks’ decision to stop the fight had to do with Ajagba other than him being an alert fighter looking to continue to inflict damage on his opponent.
The bout now creates a solid contender for the heavyweight division, but that is the problem. The heavyweight division is log-jammed by inactivity. Tyson Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion, and Oleksandr Usyk, the WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight champion, have fought only once a piece this year. Fury fought an MMA fighter, Francis Ngannou in a fight that was way too close for comfort. Oh, and now those two are locked in for two fights as they signed to fight in February it seems with a rematch clause.
So the guys on the outskirts of the top-five in the division, the Frank Sanchez’s, the Zhilei Zhang’s, and Efe Ajagba’s of the world now have to wait and wait some more.
The bout tonight was contested for the WBC silver heavyweight world title, but most don’t know what that means other than you get a belt. One would hope it could have future implications for the WBC heavyweight world title, but Tyson Fury has almost gone two years without a meaningful fight.
So, with a division that has no resolution in sight in the near future, it leads the contenders of the world in limbo, and flux.
Ajagba, who many wrote off after losing to the world-class and heavily avoided Frank Sanchez, is now riding a four-fight win streak, and Joe Goodall, who looked like he could play Paul Bunyan in a movie knew what was asked of him, but he just didn’t seem to have the gear needed to break the will of Ajagba.
Ajagba has now crafted a terrific 2023 that saw him defeat Stephan Shaw, Zhan Kossobutskiy, and Joe Goodall. One could make the case that Ajagba who has been very active might be the only fighter in the division moving forward in any capacity, outside of Zhilei Zhang…so it possible the two could meet?
Zhang spoke to ProBox TV News earlier and stated he had no interest in the main event and was here in support of his promoters, the Lane Brothers, Tommy, and Terry Lane, as Zhang seeks a big fight could the winner of this land a fight with him in China if Zhang can’t get one of the big name fighters, the Anthony Joshua’s, Deontay Wilder’s, Oleksandr Usyk’s or Tyson Fury’s to fight him? Unlikely, but often fighters have a reason for showing up to fights.
It seemed ESPN was also keen on bringing up the fact that Zhang was here as well.