Joe Cordina looks back on the lessons he learned against Edward Vazquez
Sometimes you have to win and look good next time.
That was the case for Joe Cordina on Saturday night when he retained his IBF junior lightweight title by 12-round majority decision over hard-charging Edward Vazquez at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, Monte Carlo.
Cordina (17-0, 9 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 4-rated junior lightweight, wasn’t able to advance his claim of being the premier 130-pounder in the world and had to rely on bursts early, which included hurting Vazquez in (15-2, 3 KOs) in the fourth round and then use his superior skills the late rounds to retain his title on the scorecards. One of them was tallied at 114-114, but that was out voted by two scores of 116-112 for a majority decision win.
“It wasn’t a case of a hard fight, he’s tricky and clever, (and) he’s a good fighter,” Cordina told DAZN afterwards. “I didn’t have to work hard for it, I had to track him down and pin him. It was a good fight.
“Going into the 10th, [trainer] Tony [Sims] said, ‘It’s probably level, you’ve got to win these next few rounds.’ It wasn’t a conclusive victory, I didn’t box my best but at the same time I think I did enough to win the fight at least by a couple of rounds.”
While the 31-year-old Welshman looked a little flat, he was able to occasionally go through the gears, which admittedly looked a little forced and show his class with flashy, eye-catching combinations to pick up points. However, this was far from vintage Cordina, it simply didn’t flow.
Credit must also go to Vazquez, for whom this was his own World Cup Final. The game Texan rose to the occasion and had clearly done his home work to negate the defending champion and try to out work him. Vazquez notably kept his left hand high to prevent Cordina having the same success with his right hand that sparked out Kenichi Ogawa in June 2022.
Late last year, Cordina had injured his right hand, which required surgery ahead of facing Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, a fight that was due to take place on the undercard of Dmitry Bivol and Gilberto Ramirez in November. Cordina was unceremoniously stripped of his title by the IBF, which seemed hugely unfair give how other champions like the Charlos, and later Bivol and others haven’t performed for a longer period.
Anyway, Rakhimov met late sub Zelfa Barrett and got off the canvas to pick up the vacant title. The agreement was that the victor would defend his title against a healthy Cordina. Rakhimov and Cordina met in what turned out to be a thrilling encounter and one of the Fights of The Year in April.
A potential Knockout of the Year and Fight of the Year contenders were also going to be tough acts to follow, and so it proved.
Regardless, Cordina got the W and moves onwards. He is in line for some big nights for which he can expect to be handsomely renumerated for.
He baulked at the likes of domestic rivals like Anthony Cacace and Zelfa Barrett believing they weren’t fights he could get up for or raise his profile and would be more risk versus not enough reward.
Cordina instead has had his head turned by another Brit, former two-time featherweight titlist Leigh Wood, who recently came from behind to stun Josh Warrington and then vacate his title to jump to 130. The fight is a natural and with both fighters under the Matchroom banner.
“He’s mentioned my name, I’m happy to do that,” Cordina said of his promotional stablemate. “It should be an easy fight to make. The only other thing is where is it going to be. Is it going to be in Cardiff or is it going to be in Nottingham?
“That’s down to [promoter] Eddie [Hearn], if Eddie wants me to go there, he has to pay me big money. Or he can pay me big money and do it in Cardiff but I’m the champion, whatever I say goes.”
Another fight which would be equally appetizing would be against WBC ruler O’Shaquie Foster, who retained his belt a week ago in exciting fashion against Rocky Hernandez.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) November 5, 2023
Frankly, if the person opposite Cordina in his next fight is neither of them it would be a disappointment. Cordina isn’t some young titleholder, he has an extensive amateur career, which consisted of around 180 bouts and fought all of the world in three World Championships and the 2016 Rio Olympics. He wants big nights, he demands them and I’m sure that’s what he’s telling Eddie Hearn.
Fighting on Monte Carlo was a boxing ticking exercise, he openly told me.
“I like the finer things in life,” said Cordina. And to get those things he will have to face the best at 130, and in a few fights time, he will head to the talent-rich lightweight division in search of bigger challenges and paydays.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].