The fighting pride of Wales, Joe Cordina, returns to the ring on Saturday when he faces Shavkatzhon Rakhimov at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff.
Billed as ‘Retain or Regain’, Cordina will be aiming to win back the IBF Featherweight belt that was controversially stripped from him last year.
The Battle for the Belt
The Welshman extended his unbeaten pro record to 15 wins last June after knocking out Kenichi Ogawa at the same venue.
Following the emphatic second-round finish, he was set to defend his first ever world title against IBF mandatory Rakhimov in November, but a gruesome hand injury put him out of action for that fight.
Like the IBF had done before – when Canelo Alvarez was stripped of his IBF Middleweight title after he failed to come to an agreement to fight Sergiy Derevyanchenko in time – they removed Cordina’s belt.
The vacant title was up for grabs between Rakhimov and fellow Brit Zelfa Barrett. Taking place at the Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, Barrett knocked the Tajikistan down in round three, but couldn’t finish the job off as the southpaw style proved too strong, dropping Barrett twice in round nine to win by TKO.
As the tables have turned and the ‘Welsh Wizard’ looks to win back what’s rightfully his, Cordina will have the home faithful cheering him on from his corner.
How They Match Up
Despite being the older man at 31, Cordina is the less experienced of the two in the pro game. And with a significantly lower knockout percentage than his opponent, it does seem that Rakhimov is the bigger puncher.
But with traces of that one-punch Ogawa knockout still firmly etched into his muscle memory, the local lad could inflict the first loss of Rakhimov’s career.
As the main event ring walks are expected from 10pm, can Cordina reclaim the title, or will Rakhimov upset the Cardiff crowd? Catch the fight on DAZN this Saturday!
Want to see more of the action in the build up to fight night? Get behind-the-scenes coverage from @jdsports across our socials. 📲