In a hard fought, dramatic, close battle in Cardiff, Wales, Joe Cordina recaptured the IBF super featherweight title Saturday night with a narrow split decision win over champion Shav Rakhimov.
The fight capped the Matchroom Boxing/DAZN show from the Cardiff International Arena, as Cordina scored the only knockdown of the fight early, kept up the pressure up with the harder punches in the second half of the fight and earned the decision win.
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Cordina, who had to vacate the IBF 130 lb. title last year because of a hand injury and surgery, seemed to land the harder punches in the bout. And, that included his second round flash knockdown with a hard left to the chin of the champ Rakhimov. This, as Rakhimov, originally from Tajikistan but now training out of Los Angeles, was making his first defense after having one the vacant title by TKO over Zelfa Barrett in Dubai in November.
That knockdown would be huge on the scorecards that finished 115-112, 114-113 for the Welshman, with the dissenting judge scoring it 116-111 for Rakhimov. Big Fight Weekend’s unofficial card had Cordina winning 115-112.
To his credit after being briefly dropped in the second, Rakhimov continued to be the more aggressive fighter out of the southpaw stands coming at Cordina and he landed consistently with combinations to the body and the head. The champion actually got the better of Cordina in the third and fourth rounds after the knockdown to even up the score cards.
However, Cordina repeatedly was able to score with hard right hands like the one that he had knocked out Kenichi Ugawa with last June to capture the IBF title in the first place.
Cordina eventually cut Rakhimov in the 6th round over the left eye and swelling continued over the same eye for the champion bothering him throughout the remainder of the fight.
Still, Rakhimov rallied as the busier fighter in the 9th and 10th rounds and the fight was obviously very close.
But, inspired by a roaring home crowd Cordina was the better fighter late, including hammering Rakhimov with several uppercuts to back him up in the 11th. And, then Cordina scored with a hard right-left to rock the champ in the fateful 12th round. Rakhimov was still busy at the end of the 12th scoring several times in the final :15 seconds.
However, as it turned out, the two judges that gave Cordina the fight had him up by enough going into the final round that it didn’t matter that they scored the 12th .
There was a lengthy delay on the reading of the cards to the crowd, as it was revealed post fight that someone made an error in reposting the score of British judge Phil Edwards. Edwards had Cordina winning the fight 105-104 heading into the 12th round and scored it for Rakhimov, however, as the sheet below shows, his final score was mis-tabulated for an incorrect 116-113 verdict.
Thoughts On The Official Scorecards?
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The delay was straightened out and Cordina was announced the rightful winner. Meanwhile, the champion Rakhimov was in tears in his corner after suffering his first professional defeat.
The new, again, champion Cordina delivered in front of a roaring sellout home crowd and said post fight in the ring to DAZN,
“This is a special moment to be a two-time world champ. He’s a tough fighter, but as the people in my gym know, as Tony (Sims, his trainer) knows, I’m a bad mother f*#ker. That’s how I felt tonight. That no one could beat me on this night.”
With the win, Cordina would like to get in the mix for a possible unification battle with WBO champ Emanuel Navarrete, WBC champ O’Shaquie Foster and WBA champ Hector Luis Garcia. However, all of those fighters are aligned with either Top Rank Boxing or Premier Boxing Champions and aren’t likely to fight him anytime soon.
But that, doesn’t matter on for now, for Cordina, as he celebrates regaining a portion of the 130 lb. world title.