Sometimes, in boxing, someone goes down immediately after the final bell and sometimes, a fighter just walks out of the arena. Which was exactly what happened on Friday night in Minneapolis, when Curtis Harper (13-6) and Efe Ajagba (6-0) were supposed to fight at the Armory as part of a Premier Boxing Champions card broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
Ajagba has been training under Ronnie Shields since relocating from Nigeria as a 2016 Olympian, as reported by ESPN’s Dan Rafael, and his Friday night bout with Harper was set to showcase his journey to national heavyweight prominence.
Until Harper decided he didn’t want to fight.
As Rafael noted and was seen live on TV, both Harper and Ajagba went through introductions, entered the ring, bumped gloves and returned to their corners in anticipation of a six-round showdown. But as soon as the bell rung, Harper ducked under the ropes, out of the ring and all the way out of the arena.
Referee Celestino Ruiz named Ajagba the winner by way of disqualification one second into the first round, and Ajagba’s team declared the victory an example of their prospect’s rise in the sport.
“He defined what the most feared man in boxing means — no punch necessary,” Richard Schaefer, Ajagba’s promoter, said. “A look and the opponent runs — runs out of the ring.”
Everyone else, however, was left bewildered by the fact that Harper, who would have been paid for the fight but is now likely to face a suspension literally left the fight before he could even, you know, fight. Premier Boxing Champions reporter Jordan Hardy suggested Harper left because he wasn’t “paid enough” and “wants respect.” Harper later added that he wanted to “make a statement,” which would explain why he agreed to the fight, showed up in Minneapolis and took his act all the way up to the opening bell.
He may or may not have gotten everyone’s respect, but he’s certainly gotten everyone’s attention.