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Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov vs. Joe Cordina set for April 22 in Wales

Rakhimov (right) started slow but eventually overwhelmed Barrett and forced his corner to throw in the towel. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Fighters Network

The long-awaited clash between Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Joe Cordina finally has a date.

Rakhimov will defend the IBF world junior lightweight title against Cordina on April 22, Matchroom Boxing announced Tuesday. The 12-round bout will take place at the International Arena in Cordina’s hometown of Cardiff, Wales and will stream live on DAZN. 

“I cannot wait for Rakhimov against Cordina at the Cardiff International Arena,” said Eddie Hearn, who is the Chairman of Matchroom Sports. “Last time out, it was an incredible night as Joe was crowned the new IBF junior lightweight champion with a sensational knockout win. This time, it’s going to be even bigger and better.

“This is a massive night for Welsh boxing and for Joe Cordina. He has a straight shot to become a two-time world champion without ever losing his belt in the ring. We saw Rakhimov in an unbelievable fight with Zelfa Barrett in Abu Dhabi and I’m expecting another great fight on April 22.”

The fight between Rakhimov and Cordina is a clash between fighters ranked in the top 5 by The Ring. Rakhimov and Cordina are ranked No. 3 and 4, respectively.

Cordina won the IBF title in spectacular fashion in his last bout on June 4, scoring a knockout win over Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa in the second round. Cordina was scheduled to fight Rakhimov on November 5, but suffered an injury to his hand that required surgery. The IBF stripped Cordina of the world title belt.

Rakhimov (17-0-1, 14 knockouts), who is originally from Bokhtar, Tajikistan and now resides in Los Angeles, California, overcame a knockdown in the Barrett fight to win by knockout in the ninth round on November 5. 

The 28-year-old had fought for the IBF title once before, fighting to a majority draw against Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz in February 2021. Diaz was stripped of the world title the day before due to three and a half pounds above the 130-pound limit. Rakhimov is managed by Egis Klimas. 

Cordina (15-0, 9 KOs) is eager to regain the IBF world title and, although Rakhimov is a difficult challenger, believes he can make noise in a very competitive division.

“I saw Rakhimov in Abu Dhabi and he’s certainly a good fighter,” said Cordina. “I respect him, he’s strong and tough but you need to have more than that to beat me. I never lost my belt in the ring, so my mindset is that I’m going to be walking in as the champion and leaving as the champion. Last time out, the fans were unreal and I can’t wait to experience that incredible atmosphere again in Cardiff.”

Welsh lightweights Gavin Gwynne (15-2-1, 3 KOs) and Craig Woodruff (12-6-1, 4 KOs) will square off in a 12-round bout. The fight is a rematch of their action majority decision draw in their last fight on September 17. 

Unbeaten Jordan Thompson (14-0, 11 KOs) of London will face Luke Watkins (16-2, 11 KOs) in a 10-round cruiserweight bout. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]