By Marc Livitz: Ajose Olusegunand Ali Chebah treated fans to a memorable night of fighting in a 12 round Super Lightweight contest in Santa Ynez, CA on Friday.
The bout itself was very much a contrast of styles as well as technique. The undefeated Ajose (29(14)-0) of Lagos, Nigeria was a right-handed southpaw with worlds of energy to spare, while Chebah (33(26)-1(1)) of Rouen, FR was much more reserved and patient with his shots. Ajose and Chebah were both making their American debuts. Ajose had fought on the 2008 Olympic team for his native Nigeria, while Chebah was riding an eight fight wining streak, with seven of the victories coming by way of knockout. The French fighter has fought in many corners of the globe.
From the opening bell, the difference in fight stances told the story. Ajose used his right hand to jab and his left for combinations and occasional power shots. He often used his lead right for overhand blows as well as to set up a very effective jab. Chebah was the orthodox fighter and he simply could not match Ajose’s speed in the ring.
The Nigerian compromised for his 2” disadvantage in height as he threw shots from various angles, which made it tough for Chebah to adjust. By round three, Ajose was in clear control and he sought to make his opponent aware of this as he showboated and wound up his arm before he threw shots at Chebah. In the middle of the round, he cocked back his left arm above his head and landed a fast left/right combination which resulted in the first of two knockdowns in the round. Replays actually showed that neither punch landed flush and that Chebah was hit on his back just above his shoulder blades. Nonetheless, a knockdown was scored.
Fewer than thirty seconds passed before Chebah was dropped again, which joined the first knockdown as the only two of his career. Once again, it appeared as though a solid shot was not landed and the likely cause of the knockdown was an entanglement of their feet. Despite all of this, Ali Chebah continued to come forward and he did land a solid right to end the round. He sought to increase his activity level, but was often hitting more air than his opponent.
The middle rounds saw much of the same. Ajose remained active and fascinatingly enough, regained his energy levels anytime after he appeared to be slowing down. Chebah would land the occasional power shot, which at times would appear to stun Ajose, but he didn’t come close to scoring even one knockdown to his benefit. Ajose would react to these punches with feigning acts of wobbling and smiling. Chebah could just never do enough to try to regain any momentum. The straight jabs that Chebah could land would at times force the Nigerian to change his fighting style, but once again he was too patient and seemed to be waiting for the right place and time to strike. Rounds 9 and 10 did favor Chebah a bit in terms of a landing percentage, but Ajose was always the more active fighter throughout the evening. In round eleven, Ali Chebah sought to press the action by way of his constant, down the middle jabbing. By round twelve,
Chebah knew that he’d need a knockout to win the fight. Both fighters appeared to be near exhaustion in different ways. Ajose was the much more physically winded boxer, as he often clinched and held on to kill time. Chebah showed damage on his face, although not as bad as could be expected from the volume of punches he had absorbed. Neither fighter could summon much power into their shots at this point. Although the bout was entertaining for the crowd, Olusegun Ajose cruised to an easy unanimous decision win and the chance to now face WBC Light Welterweight Champion Erik Morales. Two judges scored the bout 120-106, while the third saw it as 119-107. Ajose improves his record to 30(14)-0.
Lightweights: Darley Perez 22(17)-0, 133.5 lbs., San Pedro de Uraba, Colombia defeated Oscar Meza, 22(18)-4(3), 136 lbs., of El Dorado, Sinaloa, MX.
Perez is seen as relatively untested. A 2008 Olympian for his native Colombia, this was his first fight on US TV. All of Oscar Meza’s losses were to undefeated fighters, including current champion Brandon Rios.
Rounds 1-3 saw Meza come forward, which gave Perez much to target. Some of Meza’s shots did at least get Perez’ attention, but Perez was just too fast and used an effective jab. Meza eventually paid for his weak jab with hard counter punches from Perez. In round four, Perez was briefly troubled by Meza’s power shots and Perez did some holding on at the 2 minute mark.
The Colombian fighter eventually gained control of round as he continued to jab and counter. By round five, Perez had landed and overhand shot which opened a cut over Meza’s right eye. The sixth round would be the last stanza. Meza’s cut was bleeding into his eye, which may have caused him to miss seeing the great combinations by Perez ever coming.Furthermore, the body shots from Perez were clearly taking a toll, which caused Meza to retreat for the first time.
As time expired in the sixth, the fight was stopped, most likely by the corner of Meza. Darley Perez was a smart fighter on the night and very patient. He fully understood the need for body shots and he moved to 23(18)-0.