Going into last night’s fight with Kenichi Ogawa, Joe Cordina was taking a risk, maybe a big risk. In the end, the Welshman won by something big – a big KO – and he is now IBF 130 pound champion. Cordina’s smashing right hand laid Ogawa out in round two, and try as he may, the Japanese fighter was unable to get back up. Cardiff “exploded” as the DAZN commentator bellowed. And Cordina’s brilliant win was all the more stunning because he is not known as a banger, more so as a good boxer. Ogawa, now 26-2-1 (18) 1 no-contest, had only been stopped once previously and he was totally unafraid of defending his belt away from home. But Cordina landed what he calls “the Roberto Duran,” a punch he had been working on in camp.
Last night, Cordina, now 15-0(9) might have landed the sweetest punch of his career, but already, there are bigger fights being looked at. Eddie Hearn has already mentioned Shakur Stevenson’s name. Stevenson holds the WBC and WBO titles at super-featherweight and what a massive unification fight that fight would be for Cordina, and for all of Wales.
“We call it the Roberto Duran,” Cordina said of his KO blow. “It’s an amazing feeling when you put hours and hours of work into a punch or a combination and then you put it into a fight and it comes off and it’s lights out.”
It was indeed lights out and fans are already suggesting last night’s KO might go down as the year’s best when the time comes for the trophies to be handed out. Hearn sees bigger things ahead for his new star.
“It’s how you win a world title and people questioned the power of Joe Cordina,” Hearn said last night. “Tonight, he announced himself to the world. If Welsh boxing needed a shot in the arm, this is the young man to do it. Shakur Stevenson is an unbelievable talent but that is the sort of level of dream Joe Cordina has got to have to become undisputed.”
Stevenson, prefect at 18-0(9) and holder of big wins over Oscar Valdez and Jamel Herring, could be THE best young fighter in the world today, but Cordina is aiming high, as Hearn says he has to do. But for now, the 30 year old from Cardiff can celebrate last night’s brilliant win. No-one saw that KO coming, least of all Ogawa.