Barry Jones: Cordina has a chip on his shoulder for the 1st time in his career

Cardiff is no stranger in producing world champions at 130lbs. 25 years before Joe Cordina clinched the world title over Kenichi Ogawa with a vicious second round knockout, Barry Jones made his nation proud defeating Wilson Palacio over the distance to claim the WBO Super Featherweight World title in London.

Jones is now fast becoming the voice boxing on the British Isles as commentator for many of the country’s leading television networks. Tonight Jones will call the IBF Super Featherweight title fight between Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Cordina in the Welsh capital, a bout that clearly means a lot to the nation.

“We all know how hard it is to make it.” Jones said. “When you are not from the biggest cities or England being the biggest part of the UK, you do have to work a little bit harder unfortunately, but it’s ok, that’s just the way things are. When you find one of your own who can break the mould, you get behind them. I was the last world champion from my city until Joe won it last year, it was actually one of the proudest moments of my life.

“I’ve known Joe and his family a long time. To see that kid come from the same type of upbringing as myself, from a council estate like mine makes you proud. You look at Joe and his demeanour, he’s a good looking kid, you think he hasn’t struggled, but he has. Watching Joe win that title was one of the highlights of my boxing career, much like when Joe Calzaghe won in Las Vegas. I’ve known Calzaghe since I was 17, to see his name up in lights in Las Vegas is the closest I could have ever got to it.”

Cordina became the 13th Welsh boxing world champion last year. The nation’s population stands at 3.1 million, the list of champions the country has produced is quite staggering.

Cordina comes up against the undefeated Rakhimov (17-0-1, 14 KOs) tonight at the Cardiff International Arena. Tajikistan’s first ever world champion, making his first title defence of his belt that was infact stripped from the Welshman due to injury.

“Rakhimov doesn’t look great, he looks grey, drained on the scales.” Jones explained. “But I do think that is just how he is. He’s a better fighter than what we saw against Zelfa Barrett, Barrett boxed out of his skin by the way, the Rakhimov I saw before that was a better fighter. He’s an aggressive fighter so he will have to take punches to close the gap.

“My only worry about Joe is that he is following a bit of power of late coming off knockout of the year. I’m worried he goes in there thinking he can knock everyone out. He needs to remember what got him where he is, that’s his boxing skills, his boxing IQ and his movement around the target. We saw Rakhimov square his feet up a lot against Zelfa Barrett. I wouldn’t want him to commit to the big shots too much until he sees Rakhimov starting to get tired or overreach. Joe needs to get in there and land the shots first, he’s got a southpaw to deal with so it will be harder to establish the jab. But pivot around the body, try and loop underneath that right hand and make Rakhimov turn to his right so he squares up to throw that left hand, Joe can then push off the back foot and punch through the target.”

Cordina was stripped of the title that Rakhimov defends this evening, Jones believes it might work in his compatriot’s favour.

“For the first time in Joe’s career he has a chip on his shoulder.” Jones added. “I call it the Cardiff curse. When I won my world title I had it taken away from me, I never lost it in the ring. I had medical issues, I had to wait two years to get it back. But then I lost it to Acelino Freitas and got beat up. The good thing is that Joe is not boxing Acelino Freitas and he’s a much better fighter than I was. Sometimes it’s good for fighters to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.”