Matchroom and promoter Eddie Hearn head back to the Welsh capital tomorrow night with Joe Cordina ready to reclaim his super featherweight crown against Shavkatzhon Rakhimov.
Being in the city this week it’s clear how important this fight is for the whole nation. Former world champions Joe Calzaghe, Gavin Rees, Enzo Maccarinelliand Barry Jones have made in no secret how badly they need Cordina to win for boxing in the country.
“A lot of pressure on Joe.” Hearn said. “You would think the pressure would come off after the [Kenichi] Ogawa victory and getting knockout of the year. Obviously because of him getting stripped due to the injury, he’s got it all to do again. Rakhimov comes in as champion to face another champion. No vacant belts for Joe.
Cordina was stripped of his title that Rakhimov now owns. The IBF sticking precisely to their rulebook.
“Because of the ruling around him getting a shot in the first place they actually followed their rules.” Hearn explained. “I would of loved to have screamed and shouted, I did try. But I said to Joe, unfortunately they can’t [give him an extension]. We had a small extension with his first injury, then when the news broke about his hand they just wouldn’t wait six months. But I promised him he would get his shot and get the chance to do it again in Cardiff. Now we got it and we are looking forward to a great night.”
The country believes in their man after his crowning moment last year. However, back-to-back injuries have put a question mark on whether Cordina is at 100 percent.
“It is always going to be difficult for him being out for 10 months and especially from a hand operation.” Hearn continued. “But sparring has been good and he has had a great camp. I guess we will see how good the hand is when he sticks it on Rakhimov’s chin.
“He’s always had the pedigree. I saw him fight at a Tri Nations event at York Hall over ten years ago, as soon as I saw him, I thought this kid is a special fighter. When you have the amateur pedigree that he has and with the Ogawa fight, he is used to the big nights. He’s confident and he believes in himself, that’s half the battle. He really believes he has the beating of Rakhimov. It’s going to be a great crowd and a great atmosphere on a great card, and it’s all on plate for him on Saturday night.”