Three heavyweight battles provided support to the FuryWilder3 undercard PPV event on Saturday at the TMobile Arena. While none could compare to the main event for thrills and drama, there was still entertainment and more sorting out of an increasingly competitive division.
Sanchez scores decision win over Ajagba
Frank Sanchez of Cuba (189-0, 13 KOs) shut down Efe Ajagba of Nigeria (15-1, 12 KOs) with a better work rate and responsible defense to take a unanimous decision for the NABO/WBC Continental Americas titles in ten rounds. Scorecards were 98-91 and 97-93 X 2.
Ajagba has a higher-than-average activity rate at heavyweight, but not Saturday. He fought tentatively with caution early against Sanchez, and the Cuban took advantage of it. His right hand found the target on Ajagba in the first few rounds. Ajagba weathered it well but didn’t offer enough offense of his own to take back rounds. Sanchez had Ajagba moving back, even as he tried to open the throttle.
In the seventh round, Sanchez scored a knockdown with the right. Ajagba took a knee. Sanchez blasted him late with the left hand. Referee Mike Ortega didn’t give Ajagba a count or extra time, and he didn’t dock Sanchez a point for the late hit. It didn’t end up changing the scorecards, but with heavyweights, a fight can end with a single punch. The Nevada State Athletic Commission employs replay, and Ortega or commission member should have reviewed the sequence of events. Why is there replay if it’s not going to be used?
Sanchez coasted to the final bell and raised his hand in victory at the final bell.
“The plan was to counterpunch. I’m much faster than him, so the plan was to be defensive and counterpunch,” said Sanchez. “I knew I was going to win all the rounds because I’m much better than him technically. I knew that if I connected, he would fall, and he did fall.”
In the competitive heavyweight division, Sanchez has some work to do to reach the highest level. A loss isn’t fatal to Ajagba, but he needs to reconsider his approach and training. Both had to hear the boobirds at the T-Mobile Arena during the bout. Call it a learning opportunity for both.
Helenius delivers an entertaining rematch, stops Kownacki in six
Robert Helenius of Stockholm, Sweden (31-3, 20 KOs) took the fight to Adam Kownacki of Poland (20-2, 15 KOs) in the rematch of their March 2020 bout, one of the last before the pandemic shutdown. Helenius dealt Kownacki an even worse drubbing, living up to his moniker “The Nordic Nightmare.” Referee Celestino Ruiz stopped the bout at 2:38 of the sixth round.
Helenius landed hard head and body shots to Kownacki from the opening bell. The Swede didn’t intend to stay long. The Pole was a deer in the headlights. Left without too many options, Kownacki held and hit the taller Helenius with repeated low blows. Referee Ruiz warned Kownacki repeatedly and docked him a point in the fifth round.
With Helenius winning a shutout and the outcome inevitable as the sixth round came to its end, Ruiz pulled Kownacki out of danger and stopped the bout. Kownacki was taken to the Las Vegas University Medical Center for evaluation after the fight as a precaution.
“It was good, thank you for asking,” said Helenius in the post-fight interview. “Either way, it would have gone stoppage. I had very hard hits on him, and he didn’t have any.
“I expected it because what does he have?” asked Helenius. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good brawler, but I’ve been fighting brawlers for 20 years. I know how to deal with them, even if they are hitting me low or behind the head. That doesn’t bother me.”
Helenius hopes to become a mandatory challenger for newly-crowned heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, but he will have to await the outcome of Usyk’s rematch with Anthony Joshua.
Jared Anderson aces latest test against Vladimir Tereshkin
Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson of Toledo (10-0, 10 KOs) stepped up to hand Vladimir Tereshkin of Russia (22-1-1, 12 KOs) his first loss as a professional keeping his 100% knockout rate intact to win a minor heavyweight title.
Anderson came at Tereshkin with body shots from the first bell – an obvious target on the taller, fleshy Russian. After softening Tereshkin up, Anderson cut off the ring and pinned him to deliver hard headshots. Tereshkin was taking and staying on his feet, but referee Kenny Bayliss didn’t like what he saw and stopped the fight at 2:51 of the third round. It was a good decision. There was no point letting Tereshkin take any more punishment and risk serious injury. Anderson continues to look good against more formidable opponents.
Anderson landed 51 of 120 punches (42.5%) to 24 of 127 for Tereshkin (18.9%).
“I was a little anxious in the opening round,” admitted Anderson. “My first pay-per-view card and all that. But I settled in and gave a great performance. I practiced what my coaches preached. On to the next one.” Anderson credited the opportunity to spar with Tyson Fury for sharpening his skills. “Iron sharpens iron,” said Anderson.