Joe Cordina aims to recover his old belt against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in Wales
Former IBF junior lightweight titlist Joe Cordina will bid to regain his old title that he never lost in the ring when he faces the man who succeeded him, Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, at the Cardiff International Arena, Cardiff, Wales on Saturday.
Cordina, rated at No. 5 by The Ring at junior lightweight, knows what to expect from Rakhimov having witnessed the Tajikistan-born fighter claim his title ringside in Abu Dhabi last November.
“He’s a world champion, so he’s a good fighter,” Cordina (15-0, 9 knockouts) told The Ring. “Tough, strong, fit. Overall, a good fighter but I just think I’ve got little bit more than he has and I’m going to be victorious.
“I aint going to have to go looking for him. It’s just about me being smart, boxing to orders and if the stoppage is there, it’s there, if it’s not, then I’ll box myself to a comfortable points victory.”
Cordina had been due to face Rakhimov on the undercard of Dmitry Bivol-Gilberto Ramirez. However, he injured his right hand and required surgery a month before the proposed defense. Bizarrely the IBF elected strip the Welshman, who had annexed the title in highly impressive fashion when he brutally knocked out Kenichi Ogawa in June 2022.
While other sanctioning bodies have allowed the likes of Jermall Charlo to not defend his title in two years, Cordina saw the thing he’d worked so hard for his whole life taken away. Zelfa Barrett stepped in and met Rakhimov for the vacant title. Rakhimov got off the canvas to wear down the Brit and win the title. The understanding was that Rakhimov would then have to face Cordina.
The 31-year-old Welshman isn’t reading too much into what he saw on that night.
“Styles make fights, I’m a different style to Zelfa,” he said. “I’m going to have a different game plan to Zelfa but ultimately, we both want the same outcome – that win. I’ve got that little more, which Zelfa didn’t have.”
Although Cordina initially described having the title taken from him as feeling ‘robbed’. He’s put that behind him and is ready to become a two-time champion.
“It is annoying but at the same time it’s boxing politics, there have been fighters who have been out for months and months and haven’t been stripped,” he said. “I don’t find it disrespectful; it was the hand I was dealt. We just move forward now, there’s no point dwelling on it and going on about it. I made peace with it and moved on.”
On Tuesday, Cordina and Rakhimov met at Cardiff Castle and did a face off. However, “The Welsh Wizard” was in relaxed mood ahead the storm to come.
“Before the fight everyone has their back up,” Cordina said of fight week nerves. “I don’t take too much from it. I’m an experienced fighter, I’ve been around the world and some unbelievable fighters. I haven’t come across anything I haven’t seen before. Saturday night, we’ve got to fight. It doesn’t matter what we do beforehand. Saturday night we’ll sort it out.”
This appears a very even contest between two highly rated Ring fighters with contrasting styles. Rakhimov will bring pressure and plenty of it, how Cordina deals with that will decide the fight. If he can pick his shots and give the aggressive defending champion angles and befuddle him and maybe walk him onto a shot, he has the capabilities of winning and winning in impressive fashion. However, if he can’t keep Rakhimov off him or he suffers any issues with his hand, then it could be a particularly tough evening.
Rakhimov, rated at No. 4 by The Ring at junior lightweight, earned his stripes when he stopped former world titleholder Malcolm Klassen (TKO 8) and longtime gatekeeper Robinson Castellanos (TKO 2) before traveling to South Africa for an IBF eliminator and coming from behind to stop Azinga Fuzile (TKO 8).
The 28-year-old southpaw held Joseph Diaz to a draw when he fought for the IBF title in February 2021. The Freddie Roach-trained fighter marked time before picking up the vacant IBF title against late substitute Zelfa Barrett (TKO 9).
Rakhimov vs. Cordina, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast live on DAZN at 2 p.m. ET/11 p.m. PT. and 7 p.m. GMT.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].