Olusegun Ajose earned a shot at World Boxing Council (WBC) super lightweight champion and Mexican legend Erik Morales with a unanimous decision victory over Ali Chebah in Friday’s main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME® from Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif.
In the ShoBox co-feature, No. 5-ranked World Boxing Association (WBA) and 12th-ranked World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight Darley Perez scored a sixth round knockout over Oscar Meza when Meza’s corner stopped the bout following the sixth round. The win advanced the unbeaten prospect to 23-0 with 18 KOs.
In the main event, Ajose, the No. 1-ranked super lightweight contender, came out with an unorthodox yet aggressive style, landing sweeping right hooks on Chebah, the No. 6-ranked contender. Ajose opened up the third round with fireworks, landing a huge right hand to the top of Chebah’s head that send him stumbling to the canvas. Chebah beat the count but was immediately met with another onslaught from Ajose, who knocked down his opponent in 10 seconds with a brutal right hook. Miraculously, Chebah survived the round, although he lost it 10-7 on the judges’ scorecards.
Ajose (30-0, 15 KOs), of Nigeria, continued his showmanship yet he slowed his pace and failed to inflict much damage as the 12 round contest wore on. Chebah never relented in coming forward but an injured right hand prevented him from landing any damaging punches while the majority of Ajose’s power shots were high and wide.
Chebah (33-2, 26 KOs), of France, came on strong in the championship rounds, winning the crowd over in the 12th as they chanted his name. In the end, Chebah didn’t do enough to win over the judges, who scored the bout 120-106 and 119-107, twice.
“I have to give respect to him – he was a good opponent,” said Ajose. “I wanted to stop him in the third but he’s strong and he kept going. I had to be careful. I think I hit him well but he trained hard. I hurt my hand in the middle rounds and wasn’t able to finish him.”
Ajose, who was making his U.S. debut, now has his sights on Morales and the WBC title.
“I am the mandatory challenger so there isn’t any reason I shouldn’t fight him,” Ajose said. “He’s the champion so let’s get it on. They need to keep their promise and let us fight. I’m ready as soon as possible. I’d fight him tomorrow if they let me.”
While Chebah didn’t protest the decision loss he did think the scores should have been a little closer.
“I think I lost but not by as much as the judges had it,” Chebah said. “I wasn’t able to compete at the level I wanted. The gamep lan was to get him tired as the rounds went on, but in the third my hand swelled and I didn’t get any body shots. I just didn’t have any power in my right hand and that was the difference.”
Boxing legend and ShoBox commentator Antonio Tarver was impressed with Ajose’s performance.
“Ajose seemed like the real deal tonight and I don’t blame Morales if he doesn’t want to fight him,” Tarver said.
In the co-feature, Perez breezed through what was supposed to be the toughest test of his young career.
The Colombian prospect dominated the fight and dictated the pace, opening a cut over Meza’s right eye in the third and then another, deeper gash under Meza’s left eye with a hard right hook in the fifth. Meza (22-4, 18 KOs) came out for the sixth but Perez’s speed and power were too much for the out-matched Mexican and referee Tony Crebs stopped the bout following the sixth round at the instruction of Meza’s corner.
“I was just getting into rhythm when they stopped it but I’m really happy with my performance,” Perez said. “I usually get warmed up after the sixth round so I think I would have knocked him out.”
“I thought they would have stopped the fight in the fifth. I could see it in his eyes – he was hurt. It was a good stoppage.”
While disappointed with his performance, Meza disagreed with his corner.
“I thought I would do more damage in the fight,” Meza said. “After I got hit in the left eye I couldn’t see the punches coming. I was hurt but I think I could have rallied. I’m not happy with the stoppage but I’ll live to fight another day.”
Perez, a Colombian Olympian who was making his ShoBox debut, did enough against the experienced and battle-tested Meza to impress Tarver.
“Perez looked sharp,” Tarver said. “His balance was good and he had the perfect angles. He did everything he should and I think he’s going to be a heck of a contender in this division.”