Joe Cordina produced an impressive performance against Shavkat Rakhimov to become a two-time world champion. In what is an early contender for the fight of the year, the Welshman received a split decision from the judges to claim the IBF super-featherweight title.
It was the second straight fight that Cordina had claimed the IBF crown in his division. He stopped Kenichi Ogawa in the second round of that contest last June. Unfortunately for the unbeaten boxer, he got a hand injury and he was forced to give up his belt.
Now with a huge performance against Rakhimov, Cordina has set up some big opportunities for himself in the division in 2023 and beyond.
Hector Garcia Is the Longest Champion in The Division
The world titles in the super featherweight division have changed hands a lot over the last 12 months. Hector Garcia is the longest champion in the division, so that is a fight the Cordina team would be keen to book.
Garcia beat Roger Gutierrez on points last August in Florida to win his first world title. One of the judges in that fight scored 118-110 in Garcia’s favour. The man from the Dominican Republic dominated the opening three quarters of the fight which meant he built up a large lead by the time the champion responded with a late surge.
The WBA super-featherweight champion stepped up in weight earlier this year to face Gervonta Davis for the WBA (Regular) lightweight title. Garcia had some success in that contest, but he suffered defeat as did not come out of his corner at the end of the eighth round.
A fight with Cordina in a unification contest would be the perfect chance to bounce back from the first defeat in his career.
Foster And Navarrete Are Unification Options
Cordina stated in the ring after his victory over Rakhimov that he wanted his next fight to be a unification contest. That means WBC champion O’Shaquie Foster and WBO title holder Emanuel Navarrete and two men who are on his radar.
Foster got the better of Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC crown back in February. The scorecards read 116-112, 117-111 and 119-109 in his favour. The judges were impressed by the number of punches thrown and landed by Foster in that fight.
Navarette represents someone who has been in great form in the ring as he has prevailed in his last 32 fights. The Mexican is a three-division world champion. His latest title victory came against Liam Wilson when he beat the Australian boxer in the ninth round to claim the WBO super-featherweight title.
The former number-one-ranked featherweight will be keen to prove he has enough power for the super featherweight division. A fight with Cordina would allow him to do that. All of the Mexican’s world belts have been with the WBO so this would also allow him the chance to win a world title with another organisation.
Moving Up in Weight
The other option for Cordina this year is to move up to the lightweight. He fought in the division in the early stages of his career, winning the British and Commonwealth titles. As an amateur, he won the gold at the 2015 European Amateur Championships at lightweight, while in 2014, he picked up the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.
With undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and WBA (Regular) champion Davis at the weight, there are two big names for Cordina to face. Haney is set to defend all four of his belts against Vasily Lomachenko. As of the 26th of April, the champion is the odds-on favourite at 4/11 in the sports betting for that fight. It is a bout Cordina will be keeping a close eye on.
Davis recently defeated Ryan Garcia in what was one of the biggest wins of his career so far. He took will be looking for another major fight in the division later this year.
Cordina has won nine of his 16 professional fights by stoppage, so he has shown he has the power likely needed to have success at lightweight. The lure of becoming a two-division world champion may be enough to tempt him to put on the extra 5lb.
The Welsh boxer will be enjoying some well-earned rest for now. He has shown he is one of the brightest boxers in the sport and there are sure to be some big events involving him in Wales and around the world in the near future.