Joe Cordina takes on Kenichi Ogawa in Cardiff on Saturday aiming for greatness
Highly-skilled Welsh boxer Joe Cordina will challenge Kenichi Ogawa for the IBF junior lightweight title at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff on Saturday.
Cordina, who was a standout amateur, fighting at Commonwealth, European, World Championships and Olympic games, is closing in on his goal in the professional ranks.
“It’s exciting time, it’s everything I’ve wanted,” Cordina (14-0, 8 knockouts) told The Ring. “It’s a big opportunity for me to change not only my life but my family’s life and put my name down in the history books as a world champion. It’s a big opportunity and I will grab it with both hands.”
The 30-year-old appreciates Ogawa will provide his biggest test to date, but he feels he is more than capable of overcoming it.
“He’s a good fighter, he’s a world champion so he’s got to be good,” he said. “He hasn’t got one thing that’s unbelievably great but he does everything well.
“I’ve said it before there’s a load of world champions – whether it was at lightweight or junior lightweight – that I’m capable of beating.”
Ogawa is expected to try to use his physical strength and brute power, while Cordina will likely off-set that with his smart boxing.
However, Cordina disputes he will look to win the fight on the backfoot and feels his time at lightweight will serve him well and allow him to hold his own.
“I’ve boxed at 135 and I held my own weight-wise with everyone [I fought],” he reasoned. “Gavin Gwynne is probably one of the biggest lightweights there is and physically strong as well. You had [Sean] “Masher” Dodd who was physically strong as well.
“When I went down to 130, to be honest, I can’t say I didn’t feel it because if they hit you right, you’re going to bed, but physically I don’t think if I press him, he’ll be able to live with me but at the same time I’ve got boxing ability and I can fight on the inside. You’ll see on the night, I’ll box, I’ll fight, I’ll push him backwards, I might go backwards but I’ll come out victorious.”
Cordina, who as usual has trained diligently under the watchful eye of Tony Sims in Essex, is proud to bring big-time boxing back to his hometown.
“I’ve got to thank Eddie [Hearn] for getting it over the line, Eddie and DAZN made that happen,” he said. “[Ogawa] probably wanted it in Japan but we managed to get him over to Wales. I’m just happy it’s in my hometown.
“The Motorpoint is an arena that I grew up going to events, it’s right in the heart of the city and it’s a great feeling.
“The only thing that would be more satisfying than winning a world title in my hometown would be fighting at the Cardiff City Stadium, winning it there.”
That is a goal for further down the road and maybe the sort of occasion that could entice one of boxing burgeoning stars across the pond.
“[Shakur Stevenson] has said in a couple of interviews that he’s happy to come to the U.K. and in the U.K. he only rates me at 130,” Cordina said. “We’ve been to the Olympics together. Although I’m a boxer, I’m a boxing fan and I rate him highly.
“I back myself against anyone. It’s a fight I’d love. Especially in my hometown in the Cardiff City Stadium but at the same time I’ve got a job to do. When I come through this fight, we can look at that fight but until then it’s on the backburner.”
Ogawa (26-1-1, 18 KOs) turned professional in 2010. The heavy-handed Japanese fighter won his first eight fights before tasting defeat against Yuki Miyoshi (TKO 5). Two fights later, Ogawa gained revenge stopping Miyoshi in one-round. He went on to win the Japanese title and make five successful defenses. Ogawa headed to America and met Tevin Farmer for the vacant IBF 130-pound title. Although Ogawa was controversially announced as the winner by split decision, the result was later expunged and changed to a no-contest when it was revealed Ogawa had tested positive for a banned substance.
After over a year on the sidelines, Ogawa returned and worked his way back up the mountain with a handful of wins. When the IBF title was again vacant, the 34-year-old bested Azinga Fuzile via 12-round unanimous decision in November 2021.
Ogawa-Cordina, plus full supporting undercard, will be broadcast on DAZN, beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT and 7 p.m. GMT.