Joe Cordina is drawing inspiration from the great Joe Calzaghe as he prepares to defend his IBF super featherweight title against Edward Vazquez.
The Welshman makes the first defence of his title at Casino de Monte Carlo, and is open about his desire to secure a significant fight in the US.
Emanuel Navarette and Shakur Stevenson are the high-profile fighters Cordina ideally hopes to be matched with – and partly because having observed Calzaghe’s hall-of-fame career he also observed what it takes to be “great”.
“I want to test myself, and if you want to be great yourself you have to mix yourself in with these fighters,” Cordina said. “Joe Calzaghe, for instance – he did the same thing. He went over to America, boxed [Bernard] Hopkins; Roy Jones Jnr.
“Hopkins, he was active after as a world champion, so we can’t say he was past his prime regardless of how old he was [he was 43 when Calzaghe beat him in Las Vegas in 2008]. Calzaghe beat a great Hopkins. Calzaghe made himself great by going over to America and that’s what I’m having to do, and mix in with the likes of Shakur Stevenson.
“[Calzaghe’s] from my neck of the woods. He’s done everything in the sport, and obviously I’d love to emulate what he done. To be a champion for over 10 years – it’s some doing. It’s big shoes to fill, but at the same time I’m just trying to edge closer to everything he’s ever done. He’s the only two-weight champion [from Wales]. I need to get to that. I want to get to that. So that’s my next little box I need to tick.”
Cordina is not only following in Calzaghe’s footsteps as a world champion from Wales, they have become friends to the extent that Calzaghe councils him – and can potentially again do so if Cordina continues to struggle with his hands.
“I speak to him,” said Cordina, at 31 three years older than America’s Vazquez. “There’s always love when I see him. I won’t ring him on the phone, because I know he’s a busy man, but at the same time, every time I see him it’s love.
“He’s always helpful with any advice. My last fight [April’s points victory over Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, when Cordina reclaimed the title he was stripped of], for instance, he done my weigh-in. He was at my fight also; he was at my last two fights, and also I see him quite often if he’s at any events or anything like that.
“He tries to stay out of the boxing scene, apart from when it’s myself, but yeah, he’s a great guy. He’s got a lot of knowledge in the game. He’s one of the good guys in boxing, so if I ever need any advice I only got to pick up the phone and talk to him.”