Joe Cordina successfully defended his IBF world super-featherweight world title for the first time against Edward Vazquez in Monaco at the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Cordina won the title in April for the second time against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov after previously being stripped of the same title in 2022 due to a hand injury.
Cordina (16-0), who was hoping to impress to make a case for him to proceed towards unification encounters, was made to fight hard by Vazquez (15-1), who demonstrated that he was a worthy challenger and belonged at the top level of the super-featherweight division even in defeat.
The opening round was a competitive one, with both fighters willing to trade with each other in the pocket, with Cordina focusing his work with the left hook to the body. Vazquez was targeting the head with attempted combinations.
The second round saw both Cordina and Vazques trade leather, blow for blow, in the pocket in centre ring. Cordina demonstrated he was a much bigger fighter physically and could push off and push Vazquez backwards while targeting the body. Vazquez did catch Cordina square with a right hand, which stopped Cordina briefly before the action continued.
Round three was a more controlled affair on behalf of Cordina, who utilised his jab for the first time in the fight and kept Vazquez at bay for most of the round. Vazquez did catch Cordina again with a straight right hand early in the round.
Cordina would trouble Vazquez with a left hook to the body following an uppercut, which sent Vazquez onto the backfoot hurt. Vazquez would continue to attempt to push the action on the front, but Codian was able to beat Vazquez to the punch on multiple occasions.
Vazquez would have a strong round in the fifth round by taking the fight to Cordina, throwing as Cordina attempted to set his feet. Both fighters would exchange punches throughout the round. Still, despite Cordina landing the better shots in the pocket, it would be Vazquez who would get the better of the exchanges by landing first and, most importantly, last.
Vazquez would continue his momentum into the sixth, landing several right hands onto Cordina and knocking out the mouthpiece in the process. Cordina, with his hands low, was taking unnecessary punches as Vasquez grew in confidence.
However, the confidence of Vazquez took a knock as Cordina returned with a strong round of boxing and, moving and not holding his feet, which he had done in the previous two rounds. Vazquez was peppered with little but often shots from the Welshman and being made to miss.
The eighth saw both fighters land and have success, almost taking it in turns to play attack and defence. Cordina would make Vazquez take a step back on the bell, following a combination to the body.
The ninth was a toe to toe encounter, with both trading simultaneously at times. Vazquez, whose work rate was impressive, was able to pin Cordina on the ropes and throw his punches. Cordina, when in the centre ring, demonstrated that his work was much classier of the pair.
Similar to the previous round, both fighters were able to work and land excellent shots, but the telling factor was that Cordina was able to finish the round strongly and, for the first time in the fight, pushed Vazquez backwards.
The eleventh and twelfth rounds saw both fighters dig into the trenches and throw leather with leather in a thrilling final two rounds. Vazquez’s work rate was impressive, but the heavier shots came from Cordina who was able to snap the head back of Vazquez in the final round.
It was a competitive fight throughout and one of the more entertaining fights to be held in Monaco under the Matchroom banner.
After twelve rounds, the judge’s score totals read 114-114 and 116-112 on two of the cards in favour of Joe Cordina to claim a majority decision.
Post-fight, both fighters and camps traded insults towards each other as Vazquez disputed the judge’s score totals and decision, believing that he did enough to claim victory.