Joe Cordina keen to bring big boxing nights to Wales ‘again and again’

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Joe Cordina is determined to emulate Joe Calzaghe as a long-reigning world champion and bring big boxing nights back to Wales on a regular basis.

Cordina challenges IBF super-featherweight world champion Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov at the Cardiff International Arena on Saturday aiming to regain the title he lost outside the ring.

The 31-year-old became Wales’ 13th world champion boxer when he knocked out Kenichi Ogawa in Cardiff in June, but a broken hand saw Cordina stripped of the title before a defence and Rakhimov would eventually take the belt.

Welshman Calzaghe, one of British boxing’s greatest champions who retired from the sport in 2009 after an unbeaten 46-fight career, was among the crowd at Cordina’s pre-fight press conference in Cardiff on Thursday.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity back in my home town and it’s going to be a tough night,” said Cordina ahead of fighting in front of a capacity 5,000 hometown crowd.

“We have to get that win to bring big nights of boxing back to Cardiff again and again.

“Like Joe Calzaghe did and give other fighters the opportunity to show their talents around the world.

“Lee Selby became a world champion but he never cemented this as his home as a fighter.

“That’s what I wanted to do and I believe that after my last win in June that was the start.

“We’ve had that little bit of a break, but get this title on Saturday and that’s when all the big nights start happening again.”

Like Calzaghe before him, Cordina is no stranger to hand injuries but he has built an unbeaten 15-fight professional record after impressing in the amateur ranks.

Cordina won bronze for Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and lightweight gold for Great Britain at the 2015 European Championships in Bulgaria.

“People say it’s mad that I’m away in camp for so long but I’ve been doing this for 10 or 11 years,” said Cordina, who bases himself away from Cardiff in Essex during training camps.

“I started boxing at 16 and at 18 I was on the GB squad, from there I lived in Sheffield for seven and a half years.

Kenichi Ogawa v Joe Cordina – Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Joe Cordina, left, produced a sensational knockout punch to beat Kenichi Ogawa, right, in June and become IBF super-featherweight world champion (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“I’ve sacrificed myself, I’ve missed kids’ birthdays, two of their births. Everything I’m doing now is to provide for them in the future and he (Rakhimov) is standing in my way.”

Rakhimov, who is also unbeaten with 17 wins and a draw, won the vacant IBF super-featherweight world title in November with a ninth-round stoppage victory over England’s Zelfa Barrett in Dubai.

“I’m born ready and I will show that in the ring on Saturday,” said Rakhimov, 28.

“I have a very good team, a great coach in Freddie Roach, and we know the key to the victory.”

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