Fighting in front of his home crowd at the Cardiff International Arena in Wales, Joe Cordina (16-0, 9 KOs) recaptured his IBF super featherweight title by defeating champion Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (17-1-1, 14 KOs) by a 12 round split decision on Saturday night on DAZN.
The scoring for the fight was all over the place, with one judge giving it to Rakhimov by a wide 116-111 score and the other two scoring it 115-112 and 114-113 for Cordina.
In the last five rounds, Rakhimov got the better of the action with his combination punching and the nonstop pressure that he was applying to the exhausted-looking Cordina, who was limited to throwing Mayweather-esque scoring pot shots.
The punches that Cordina was landing had more power on them than Rakhimov, and they were often eye-catching because they were landing cleanly, which undoubtedly got the judges’ attention and amped up the crowd.
Cordina knocked Rakhimov down in the second round after catching him with a shot while he was off balance. To his credit, Rakhimov got back up and dominated the remainder of the round, even hurting Cordina, but the damage had been done with the knockdown.
In the fifth, Rakhimov badly hurt Cordina with a long right to the head that had him holding on. Cordina made it out of the round by clinching, moving & roughing up Rakhimov with hitting on the break & holding & hitting. It was a far more dominant round by Rakhimov than the second in which Cordina had knocked him down.
It’s understandable why the judge had it for Rakhimov because he was the busier of the two in every round, and he fought a clean fight.
Cordina got away with a lot of fouling, with him hitting on the break several times, holding & hitting Rakhimov in a headlock, shoving, shouldering, and using the straight arm.
With all those illegal tactics, it’s not a shock that one judge had it for Rakhimov. There should have been multiple-point deductions for Cordina, but he got away tonight while fighting at home in Cardiff.
Last year, the 31-year-old Cordina had been stripped of his IBF 130-lb title after suffering a right hand injury, which prevented him from defending the belt against Rakhimov, who subsequently captured the vacant belt with a ninth round TKO win over Zelfa Barrett.
In the sixth, Rakhimov suffered a nasty cut over his left eye from a right hand by Cordina. The eye became bruised as the fight wore on, but Rakhimov’s corner did a good job of keeping the cut from worsening.
“He’s a tough fighter, but as the people in my gym know, I’m a hard mother f***ker,” said Cordina to DAZN after the fight, giving himself praise while complimenting Rakhimov.
With the way Cordina looked tonight, he’d have problems with Oscar Valdez, Emmanuel Navarrete and O’Shaquie Foster. Those guys are better than him in this writer’s book and would likely stop him.