Hot-shot heavyweight Efe Ajagba came into Friday night’s televised bout in Minneapolis a pristine 5–0 as a professional, with all five fights ending in knockouts, and four of those ending in the first round. He went to bed Friday night still undefeated, having notched his fifth first-round victory, but also with the first non-knockout victory of his career. This unlikely result was produced when Ajagba’s opponent, journeyman Curtis Harper, the underdog, left the ring immediately after the opening bell, and marched the hell out of there:
Ajagba’s people seized the opportunity to depict this as an example of how feared Ajagba has become in his short time as a professional:
“This was legendary,” Schaefer said. “We waited a long time to have another heavyweight who instills fear in his opponents by just being in the ring and looking at them. The last time a fighter instilled that kind of fear in an opponent was Mike Tyson.”
Harper apparently articulated a different, non-fear-based reason for abandoning the fight:
These explanations aren’t necessarily at odds with one another. Ajagba is slated for stardom, and Harper (13–6, 9 KOs) is an also-ran booked expressly for the purpose of having his head punched off in a televised showcase. He probably doesn’t very much want to take the punishment, and he also probably isn’t being paid enough for it. Boxing, as currently constructed, absolutely requires Glass Joe-esque veterans whose job it is to seem respectable enough, so that value can be taken from a prized up-and-comer whupping their ass. Thus, Harper’s job is an important one, requiring painful personal sacrifice. If the money isn’t right, for the love of God don’t do it!
Dan Rafael of ESPN says Harper will almost certainly be suspended by the Minnesota boxing commission, and will probably not be paid for the, um, “fight.” He also took no punches and avoided a knockout.