Efe Ajagba trained to avoid making the same mistakes Saturday night that cost him his unblemished record the last time he fought a boxer-puncher.

The hard-hitting Nigerian heavyweight’s failure to cut off the ring against Frank Sanchez enabled the technically sound, unbeaten Cuban contender to comfortably beat him on points in their 10-rounder on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard in October 2021 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Sanchez scored a knockdown in the seventh round and beat Ajagba by scores of 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92.

Stephan Shaw predicted that he’ll be able to out-box Ajagba (16-1, 13 KOs) in similar fashion during a 10-round main event ESPN will televise from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.

“If he do that, I’m not gonna follow him,” Ajagba told BoxingScene.com. “You know, during the Frank Sanchez fight, I’m not here to make excuses, it’s just the injury [to each elbow]. That’s why I’m not surprised [I lost]. But I’m not here to make excuses. I accept defeat. I followed him too much. That’s what the problem was. I followed him too much and I didn’t let my hands go.

“But this one will be different. I’m not gonna follow him. I’m gonna stand in the middle of the ring. That’s how I’m gonna win my fight, so let’s see.”

St. Louis’ Shaw (18-0, 13 KOs, 1 NC) replaced Oscar Rivas on less than one month’s notice because the Colombian contender suffered a detached retina while training.

The 30-year-old Shaw was scheduled to face Italian prospect Guido Vianello (10-0-1, 9 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature. Once Shaw stepped in for Rivas, Vianello agreed to battle Las Vegas’ Jonnie Rice (15-6-1, 10 KOs) in the opener of ESPN’s two-bout broadcast (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).

Ajagba said Shaw is “not a bad fighter,” but he believes Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs) would have given him a more difficult fight.

“I think Oscar is a tougher fighter than Shaw,” Ajagba said. “Oscar Rivas is a gifted fighter, but Shaw is just a boxer. So, that’s the difference. I think he is not a tougher fighter [than Rivas]. If you go to my past fights, you see I’m fighting tough guys.”

The 28-year-old Ajagba underwent surgery on both elbows following his loss to Sanchez. The 2016 Olympian has since felt like a different fighter in sparring and during his second-round, technical-knockout victory over Hungary’s Joszef Darmos (14-6-3, 10 KOs) on August 27 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“A lot of guys don’t like to spar me anymore because they feel the power,” Ajagba said. “They say I look different. Jonathan Rice told me I look different.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.