The weekend of April 10 might be the best boxing weekend of 2021 so far. Jaron Ennis and Conor Benn thrilled, but many others also made an impact.
Three cheers to boxing during the April 10 weekend. The names weren’t necessarily the biggest, but fighters like Jaron Ennis, Conor Benn, Efe Ajagba, and many others provided quality and depth that’s rarely seen on a boxing weekend.
Three fight cards on DAZN, Showtime, and ESPN combined to give boxing fans a wealth of boxing action. The main event from each of these shows entertained in different ways, but the undercards for each also added to a fantastic pugilistic buffet.
This week’s “After the Fight” column can’t just focus on one or two boxers or matchups. Too many fighters showed out and deserve lots of love for their efforts in the ring. Let’s relive some of this past weekend’s boxing action.
Best Fight of the Weekend: Jerwin Ancajas vs. Jonathan Rodriguez / Shannon Courtenay vs. Ebanie Bridges (tie)
Why pick one bout for the fight of the weekend when you can have two?
Super flyweights Jerwin Ancajas and Jonathan Rodriguez left it all in the ring, as did bantamweights Shannon Courtenay and Ebanie Bridges.
Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs) successfully defended his IBF title against Rodriguez, but it certainly wasn’t easy. The 16-month layoff from Ancajas likely stunted his performance, but Rodriguez’s chin and heart deserve tons of credit.
Rodriguez (22-2, 16 KOs) vastly exceeded expectations. He looked finished in rounds 8 and 9. Ancajas dropped Rodriguez in round 8 and had him badly hurt throughout round 9, but Rodriguez hung in there and rallied to win rounds 10, 11, and 12 in my book.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 11, 2021
I have no clue how Rodriguez stayed in the fight. It defies logic that someone could withstand that type of punishment. The even bigger mystery is how he was able to find the energy to throw 90 or more punches in rounds 9 and 12, according to CompuBox stats.
Rodriguez lost a unanimous decision, but some of those scores were way too wide. It was a close fight, and we will definitely see more of Rodriguez after his gutty performance.
Speaking of gutty performances, Courtenay (7-1, 3 KOs) and Bridges (5-1,2 KOs) proved to be tougher than anyone could have imagined. Their fight was hyped due to several cutting words exchanged before the fight, but that ill-will carried into the ring.
Courtenay was the sharper boxer, but Bridges packed a powerful punch and also absorbed tremendous shots from Courtenay. Bridges was in serious trouble as her left eye quadrupled in size but fought on and made it to the final bell.
Courtenay was the clear winner and won the vacant WBA title by unanimous decision, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
Best Knockout of the Weekend: Efe Ajagba KO’s Brian Howard in round 3
Welterweight Jaron Ennis scored an impressive knockout over Sergey Lipinets, but the optics of heavyweight Efe Ajagba’s KO of Brian Howard in round 3 was haunting yet enthralling at the same time.
Howard didn’t stand much of a chance against the undefeated Ajagba, but the end of the fight was more devastating than anyone could have imagined.
Ajagba (15-0, 12 KOs) hadn’t fought since September and had surgery on both of his elbows, but that didn’t matter on April 10. He came in at a cut 239 pounds and showed power rivaling Deontay Wilder’s.
Under the guidance of trainer Kay Karoma for their second fight together, Ajagba looked better than ever. In round 3, Ajagba’s jab to Howard’s chest opened up his head, and Ajagba came in with a straight right to the side of Howard’s head that reduced him to a heap on the canvas.
Oh. My. Goodness. @AjagbaEfe.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 11, 2021
The replay says it all. Ajagba’s KO of Howard is a KO of the Year candidate. His confidence is sky high, and he named three fights to FanSided that he would like to have next. He mentioned the names Daniel Dubois, Tony Yoka, and Joe Joyce. Keep an eye on FanSided for the upcoming interview with Ajagba.
Biggest Riser from the Weekend: Jaron Ennis / Conor Benn (tie)
Joe Smith Jr. deserves a ton of credit after becoming a champion for the first time. He defeated Maxim Vlasov for the WBO light heavyweight title, but it was a close majority decision win.
There was nothing close about welterweights Jaron Ennis and Conor Benn’s respective bouts. They blasted out their opponents in dominant fashion to add to their growing stock.
I’ve been saying that Jaron Ennis is the future of the welterweight division for a long time. His round 6 KO of Sergey Lipinets showed why I’ve been so exuberant about the 23-year-olds standing as an elite welterweight.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 11, 2021
Lipinets had never been stopped, and Ennis ran through him with a dizzying array of stances and punches. Lipinets’s head spun from Ennis’s style and a torrent of punches. Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs) broke him down and ended the show when he felt ready. He looked like he picked his shot. Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. are the primary champions, but I think that Ennis is the best welterweight in the world right now. Then again, that’s not exactly news to me.
Benn (18-0, 12 KOs) isn’t on Ennis’s level, but he’s a lot better than people give him credit for. He showed developed boxing skills against Sebastian Formella in November, but against Samuel Vargas, Benn showed superior punching power and confidence.
Conor Benn stops Samuel Vargas in round 1 in devastating fashion 🤯 pic.twitter.com/WpeEpwok0v
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) April 10, 2021
Benn believes in his abilities and put on a show by stopping Vargas in 80 seconds. Vargas wasn’t the best opponent, but he was able to go several rounds against Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia. Benn took him out faster and showed that he’s a top 20 welterweight. There are names on Boxrec.com’s top 20 that I have Benn beating. He’s probably closer to the top 15. To me, he has already surpassed expectations and is more than just Nigel Benn’s son.
It was a special boxing weekend indeed. It might be a minute before we see a collection of action like this again.