Cordina channelling the spirits of Linares, Marquez, Gonzalez and Arguello

Joe Cordina has been preparing for Edward Vazquez by studying some of the finest fighters in history.

The IBF super featherweight champion on Saturday makes the first defence of his title against America’s Vazquez at Casino de Monte Carlo, and does so following instructions from his trainer Tony Sims to watch some of the most stylish fighters of them all.

Cordina won his title when stopping Kenichi Ogawa last year and reclaimed it, having been harshly stripped as a consequence of a hand injury, when outpointing Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in April. His preparations for the 28-year-old Vazquez were also briefly led by Kevin Mitchell when Sims was with Conor Benn in Florida while Benn made his controversial return to the ring, but perhaps typically for a trainer with such respect for their sport’s history, it was advice from Sims that left the biggest impression.

“The main one for us was the likes of [Jorge] Linares – early on in my career,” the 31-year-old said. “Certain things we’re working on – like combination punches – he’s sending me [Juan Manuel] Marquez, or [Roman Gonzalez] Chocolatito for angles and working inside and combinations. Alexis Arguello – people like that. A lot of the older fighters that could do it all. 

“There was a fight he sent me before. Yaqui Lopez versus Matthew Saad Muhammad [in 1980]. Unbelievable fight, and he sent me round nine, and I looked it at and thought, ‘Fuck, I need to watch the whole fight’, so I went and watched the whole fight. It was an unbelievable fight. 

“He sends me, constantly, little snippets of certain fighters and I take little bits from them. ‘Watch how he does this.’ In his office he’s got videos. His old office in his old gym used to be full of DVDs of fighters.”

Cordina also dismissed the possibility of ongoing problems with his right hand. 

“No problems,” he said when asked how it was during his preparations for Vazquez. “I don’t really think about it. The surgeon, Mike Hayton – he’s one of the best in the world – I trust. 

“He done my first operation on my metacarpals, and my second operation, and the first time he did my first operation I had no problems after that, so there’s no reason for me to worry. He knows what he’s doing.”