Kenichi Ogawa happy to enter enemy territory for Joe Cordina challenge
Heavy-handed IBF junior lightweight titleholder Kenichi Ogawa will make the first defense against unbeaten former amateur standout Joe Cordina at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday.
Ogawa, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring at 130 pounds, is unconcerned about fighting in his opponent’s backyard, having won the vacant title on the road in New York last November.
“It doesn’t matter where I fight,” Ogawa (26-1-1, 18 knockouts) told The Ring through Nobu Ikushima. “I’m happy to defend my title abroad. I’m more motivated because I’m fighting abroad. I hope to get a favorable result and go home with the belt.”
The 34-year-old had previously won the vacant IBF title from Tevin Farmer in December 2017. However, he tested positive for a banned substance (androstanediol) and was stripped.
After serving a one-year ban, Ogawa returned to the ring and worked his way back into contention. The Japanese star defeated Azinga Fuzile (UD 12) for the championship he now holds.
“More than anything else I’m happy for my family who had supported me throughout the time I didn’t have the title,” said the once-beaten fighter, who arrived in the Welsh capital on Sunday evening. “I’m very pleased for me and mostly for my family.”
Ogawa has seen his opponent fight, but is playing his cards close to his chest in terms of strategy.
“Cordina is a good fighter,” he said. “I’ve seen highlights on DAZN. I’m using that image of him as I train. See you in the ring on June 4.”
Ogawa has been training under the watchful eye of highly-regarded trainer Sendai Tanaka at the Teiken gym in Tokyo since the beginning of the year.
Cordina fought at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships. He claimed gold at the 2015 European Championships and represented the U.K. at the 2016 Rio Olympics before turning professional the following year. Early on in his career, Cordina was given the opportunity to appear on Anthony Joshua undercards, which helped him become accustomed to the big-fight atmosphere. He captured Commonwealth and British lightweight titles before dropping down in weight. The 30-year-old sports an unbeaten record of 14-0 (8 KOs).
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.