Top Rank elected to shop locally when searching for someone to replace the injured Oscar Rivas on January 14th. Undefeated Stephan Shaw, previously slated to meet Guido Vianello in the co-feature, will now headline the show opposite Efe Ajagba.
This was honestly the best solution, and it’s still a really solid fight. Though much less proven than Rivas, Shaw (18-0, 13 KO) is a solid operator in his own right, and Ajagba (16-1, 13 KO) has shown enough shortcomings to make this a compelling matchup.
As for Vianello (10-0-1, 9 KO), he’ll take on Jonnie Rice (15-6-1, 10 KO). Rice had a pretty cushy role as Victim to the Stars, falling to the likes of Shaw, Tony Yoka, Arslanbek Makhmudov, Demsey McKean, and Ajagba before picking up a pair of wins over Michael Coffie. If he’s in shape and not the lethargic >280 lbs. he was in the rematch, he should give Vianello a reasonably solid test, though the short notice has me thinking the big boy will come out to play.