Two knockout specialists will look to climb the heavyweight rankings on 14th January when Efe Ajagba takes on Stephan Shaw in the United States.
Both fighters have had to deal with a late switch of opponents, with Ajagba set initially to meet Oscar Rivas. An injury to Rivas allowed Shaw to step up, and his original rival, Guido Vianello, is now due to take on Jonnie Rice.
The preparations for both fighters will have been far from ideal, but their CVs suggest we could be in for a barnstormer at the start of 2023. The heavyweight division is constantly in the headlines and with some potential big fights to come this year, both Ajagba and Shaw will hope to prove their worth.
|Efe Ajagba v Stephan Shaw
|Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona
|05:00, Saturday 14th January
|How to watch
|Efe Ajagba 10/11, Stephan Shaw 4/5
Ajagba's next fight with Shaw is due to take place in the early hours of Saturday 14th January. While the main card is likely to start at 03:00 GMT, the two men are due to enter the ring at 05:00 GMT. Of course, these timings could change due to the length of the undercard fights.
The heavyweight contest will take place at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona. The resort is well known for hosting boxing encounters, with over 50 live events having taken place at the venue.
Middleweight star Gennady Golovkin fought at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in 2012, while former world champion Joe Smith Jr stopped Steve Geffrard in January 2022.
Viewers in the UK can watch the fight on Sky Sports.
Neither fighter will have the chance to fight for a belt in Verona, but the winner could be in line for a potential international title.
Ajagba is still working his way back from a defeat in 2017, while Shaw has never fought for a strap, despite turning professional in 2013.
Nigerian heavyweight Ajagba started his career in 2017 when he beat Tyrrell Anthony Herndon by knockout. His power was evident from the start, as he rattled off five straight stoppage wins.
His 2018 contest against Curtis Harper is remembered for Harper's sudden decision to leave the ring after the first bell due to a contract dispute, but Ajagba was awarded the victory via disqualification.
He won 15 fights on the spin before his quest to win the WBC Continental Americas Heavy and WBO NABO Heavy titles were ended by Frank Sanchez.
Ajagba then took a 10-month break from the sport before stopping Jozsef Darmos in Tulsa in August 2022.
Ahead of January's bout with Shaw, Ajagba has won 16 fights, 13 by knockout, suffering only one defeat.
Unlike Ajagba, Shaw's record is a perfect one, with 18 wins from as many fights.
Shaw's career started with three straight knockout victories before he outpointed Rex Harris in 2015.
Only five of his opponents have been able to handle his power since he turned professional in 2013 and he has also kept himself active in recent years.
He fought three times in 2022 against Joey Dawejko, Bernardo Marquez and Rydell Booker, with his fight against Dawejko being his most significant win to date.
He will now hope to continue his unbeaten record at Ajagba's expense and that success would catapult him up the world rankings.
Shaw's unbeaten record and recent busy schedule mean he is listed as the 4/5 favourite for his fight in Verona.
Ajagba's odds of 10/11 suggest he is in with a similar chance of victory, and the bout could be a thriller as both men look to improve their ranking.
For those that fancy either fighter to finish the bout via knockout, odds of 6/5 are available for the fight not to go the distance.