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  • Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Efe Ajagba Stephan Shaw Final Press Conference



The Top Rank on ESPN 2023 schedule kicks off with a heavyweight doubleheader Saturday at Turning Stone Resort Casino.


In the 10-round main event, thunderous puncher Efe Ajagba (16-1, 13 KOs) looks upend the unbeaten run of St. Louis native Stephan "Big Shot" Shaw (18-0, 13 KOs).


The 10-round co-feature sees 2016 Italian Olympian Guido "The Gladiator" Vianello (10-0-1, 9 KOs) stepping up against noted spoiler Jonnie Rice (15-6-1, 10 KOs). Ajagba-Shaw and Vianello-Rice will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m ET/7 p.m. PT.


The undercard — streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:3-0 p.m. PT — features a 50/50 junior lightweight bout between contenders Abraham "El Super" Nova (21-1, 15 KOs) and Adam "BluNose" Lopez (16-3, 6 KOs), upstate New York-born junior welterweight prospect Bryce Mills (10-1, 4 KOs), and Brooklyn-born featherweight sensation Bruce "Shu Shu" Carrington (5-0, 3 KOs).


At Thursday's press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.


Efe Ajagba


“I have the name ‘The Silent Roller’ because I don’t talk much. Since I came back from my surgery, I’ve tried to do everything to fight more. That’s why I only had one fight last year. I’ve been trying to get more fights.”


“I’ve made adjustments for Saturday night. We’ll see how it goes. I’m ready for him. I wanted to fight Oscar Rivas before. But that changed. But now Shaw has the opportunity to fight me.”

“It means a lot to me to represent my country. I just want to be like them [Samuel Peter and Henry Akinwande]. Ever since I started boxing, I’ve tried to be like them.”

“I’m ready to put on a show. I’m going to put more pressure. I can’t wait. I’m so excited to be here.”


Stephan Shaw


“I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity. To have that pedigree behind me—that carries me. That’s my foundation, and I go off that. St. Louis has a rich history of boxing. And I feel like right now I’m the pride of St. Louis. I’m looking to continue that legacy of having great world champions represent St. Louis, Missouri.”

“I’ve got God on my side. God makes all the situations that I have faced in my entire career and He has made it work. I have faced adversity that the average man wouldn’t be able to deal with. Coming from St. Louis, beating the odds and being on this stage to have my moment. I feel great. I’m excited.”

“I’m a third-generation fighter. I’m looking to become a world champion. Saturday night, I’m going to make my mark.”


Guido Vianello


“I was happy to fight in my country, but I’m happy to fight here as well because America is my second home. My last opponent was very tough. I got him with a lot of punches. It was incredible because I have my gladiator style and he had a wild style. So, it was good for the Italian people.”

“Jonnie has a lot of experience, more than me. But I’m ready. I’ve been training very hard. I’ve been training very hard for four years since I moved to the USA. I train all the time to fight in a war, so I’m ready for this.”


Jonnie Rice


“This means the world to me right now. It’s another chance to beat another undefeated fighter. And that’s what’s on my mind. I’m going to go in there and beat him.”

“A big reason I moved to Las Vegas is to constantly be in the mindset of boxing, constantly be in the mindset of the grind. I’ve had the great chance to work with a lot of heavyweight warriors who came through Vegas and kept me rejuvenated and constantly inspired. I really don’t think that ring rust will play a part.”


Abraham Nova


“Every fight is a must-win fight. There’s not a fight that I take for granted. This is a good opportunity for me to showcase my skills and move up in the rankings.”

“I took a lot of things from the defeat {to Robeisy Ramirez}. But the main thing I learned is that I have to be more healthy as a fighter and do the right things as a fighter. I just need to be more healthy. It was a good opportunity, and a win here will put me in a better position for bigger fights.”


Adam Lopez


“This is a big fight for me. I’m moving up to the next weight class. I fought at 130 before when I fought Oscar [Valdez], but now I’m officially a 130-pounder. I feel like I’ve grown into it. It’s definitely a big fight. Nova and I are kind of in the same spot with our careers. He needs it, and I need it. I’m excited for it. It’s definitely, in my eyes, a Fight of the Year candidate type of fight.”

Bryce Mills


“I’m blessed. It’s been three and a half years since I’ve fought at home. It’s a great opportunity. I’m really excited. There’s nothing like that hometown support and that hometown energy when you’re in the ring. It adds a different level of intensity and enthusiasm to the fight.”

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