Calzaghe praises Cordina as natural successor

Joe Calzaghe has hailed Joe Cordina as Wales’ finest fighter of the past 15 years.

Calzaghe retired after victory over Roy Jones Jr in November 2008, and in the years since then Cordina and Lee Selby have each won world titles. 

Cordina most recently defended his IBF super featherweight title against Edward Vazquez, and Selby retired last year having previously reigned at featherweight as the champion of the same sanctioning body

Selby’s younger brother Andrew and the 2012 Olympian Fred Evans perhaps showed the potential to reach a similar level, but asked who he considered Wales’ best since he last fought, the great Calzaghe responded: “Joey Cordina. 

“Lee Selby was a good fighter but I think maybe Cordina. Cordina is still writing his legacy, isn’t he? I sympathise with him – he’s similar to me in suffering so many hand injuries, but he’s a great talent. He’s showed he can fight; he can dig deep; do what he did in his last fight [against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in April] going 12 hard rounds. I like Joey Cordina. I hope he goes on, defends his title, and gets some big unification fights. When he beat Kenichi Ogawa [last year] that was a great punch – the way he beat him was great.”

Under the guidance of his father and trainer Enzo at their gym in Newbridge, Calzaghe was the most successful fighter of a fine generation that also included Enzo Maccarinelli, Gary Lockett, Bradley Pryce and Gavin Rees, and he said: “Not forgetting you had Nathan Cleverly – he was a product of us; we trained him from the age of 12. That gym – it was an absolutely magical time for us. It was ridiculous. 

“We had a great relationship in the gym; we was all friends; success breeds success and we all believed we could beat anybody, and Dad’s energy was incredible. Do I think that’ll happen again? No, I don’t. I’m not trying to be big-headed, but what me and my dad achieved, especially coming from where we came from, was magical. Nobody give us a chance; nobody respected my dad as a trainer ‘cause he was a musician and people always try to write you off.

“It’s difficult to say [how good Andrew Selby and Evans could have been; Selby] was obviously a very talented fighter. You do get a lot of talented fighters, but it takes a lot of ingredients to be a top fighter. You gotta be dedicated; talent alone doesn’t make you a good fighter. They were talented fighters, but obviously didn’t reach their potential, for whatever reason.”