Guido Vianello has faced a set-back at the first hurdle.

A decorated amateur from Italy, Guido Vianello suffered a split-decision loss to Top Rank star Efe Ajagba on the undercard of Jared Anderson vs Ryad Mehry. In the eyes of many, this was an instance in which a fighter was robbed of a deserved victory, with favoritism protecting the rising Ajagba. Others would suggest that Vianello gassed too early into the fight, allowing Ajagba to pick up precious rounds in the middle.

Wherever you stand on this spectrum, it is important to acknowledge Vianello as a potential contender, particularly as the heavyweights of the 2010’s begin to age out of the game. After all, Vianello has come across numerous set-backs before. Leaving the Italian amateur scene – which offers many benefits to fighters – to turn pro, a majority decision draw to – at the time – 5-1 Kingsley Ibeh demonstrated a struggle to move up the levels.

However, the 6 ‘6 heavyweight soldiered forward, before a surprise TKO loss to Jonathan Rice, stemming from a cut to the eye caused in the 6th. But, brimming with potential, Vianella would move on once again, believing in his pedigree.

Another man to believe in his pedigree is Bob Arum, with the promoter giving him his biggest shot to date against Efe Ajagba; the holder of the WBC Silver trinket. With Ajagba’s loss to Frank Sanchez, it seemed as though both men were evenly-matched moving into this bout, roughly at the same level of contendership.

This was his chance. Having sparred the likes of Joe Joyce and Tyson Fury, and boasting fast, capable hands, solid footwork and heaps of potential, this was his moment. From the opening bell, Vianello made himself known. By the 2nd, he substantially rocked Ajagba. In fact, Vianello would go on to claim the early rounds entirely, with impressive displays throughout.

Perhaps, too impressive.

His gas-tank had emptied completely, moving past the 4th, allowing Ajagba to recover and retake the majority of the middle rounds, with impressive displays of a very consistent uppercut to work at the iron-chinned Vianello.

Perhaps sensing the changing tides of war, Vianello recouped in the final two rounds with a gladiatorial spirit – enough so that judge Nathaniel Cantu scored the bout in his favor. However, Ajagba proved to be too impressive in the middle rounds for the other judges to ignore.

So, the ultimate question now is, where does Vianello go? Where is his ceiling? His amateur skill and impressive chin suggest something more, yet, many of his professional performances still leave some to be desired.

With that, who could stand as a future opponent for ‘The Gladiator?’

Frazier Clarke

Amateur skill and impressive chin with a struggling gas tank suggest perhaps a showdown with Fraizer Clarke. After all, they already have faced on the amateur circuit, with Clarke taking all the wins – this could be a chance for redemption for Vianello whilst boosting Clarke’s resume in the build-up to a potential second encounter with Fabio Wardley.

Fabio Wardley

Whilst on the subject, why not throw him into the mix too? It would be interesting to see where he stands on the world stage, having claimed all the regional and national titles. Plus, their styles would make for an entertaining fight throughout, especially if Wardley can trouble the Italian.

Arslanbek Makhmudov

Another amateur opponent to best Vianello in the amateurs, Makhmudov is coming off a loss to Agit Kabayel on the historic Day of Reckoning card. Being scheduled to fight Junior Fa in May, providing he can get through the Kiwi, this would be an interesting match-up; with Makhmudov doing substantial damage to Vianello but Vianello staying up through sheer grit and iron.

Hughie Fury

Sticking with the amateurs, Hughie Fury recently made a return to the heavyweight scene after a considerable absence and has made his intentions to stake his claim clear. Certainly not Tyson by any means but Hughie still holds a physicality that could trouble Vianello, as well as a win in the amateurs over him. However, Vianello could put his amateur skills to use and keep him at bay, providing him with a strong name on the resume.

Tony Yoka

Finally, an amateur star with recent struggles in the pro ring, Tony Yoka could give Vianello a noticeable name on the record and a decent match against someone with higher amateur pedigree.

And so, one can only hope that The Gladiator rides again, re-building and ready to become the king of the coliseum.

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