Joe Cordina Reclaims IBF Super-Featherweight Title With Razor-Thin Split-Decision Over Rakhimov

Joe Cordina (16-0, 9KOs) has successfully recaptured the IBF world super-featherweight title after defeating Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (17-1-1, 14KOs) in his home city of Cardiff. Cordina, who previously won the title after defeating the previous holder, Kenichi Ogawa, with a stunning second knockout. Cordina would be stripped of his title last year following a hand injury after it was clear he wouldn’t be able to defend his title against Rakhimov last November, who went on to defeat Zelfa Barrett in the UAE to claim the IBF crown. 

Promoter, Eddie Hearn promised Cordina an opportunity to fight for the IBF title, and Joe delivered the result in an entertaining and competitive encounter at the Cardiff Arena, Wales. 

Cordina would start the contest brightly, seeking to box behind the jab and be evasive, with Rakhimov seeking to establish his imposing style. Cordina would land a number of sharp short uppercuts. However, Rakhimov would rally strongly in the final moments with a flurry of shots and a looping long left hand catching Cordina on the bell to signify the end of the round.

Rakhimov would have to return to the drawing board in the second round after succumbing to a knockdown in the second round following a body shot and short left hand landing flush on the champion’s chin. The knockdown came with a minute remaining of the round and saw Cordina take a calculated approach and not wreckless in action, although this allowed Rakhimov to rally late on in the round.

Round three would see Cordina use his superior skills, catching the champion with a number of right hands as Rahkimov attempted to make the fight a scrappy inside duel as the pace intensified. 

Rahkimov would make his own dent in the armour of Cordina in the fifth with a right-hand snapping the head back of the challenger and seeing the Welshman seek to clinch. Cordina though would wobble Rakhimov late in the round following a flurry of shots; however, it was too late to capitalise. 

Cordina capitalised, however, on a break in the action in the sixth following referee Steve Gray, warning both fighters to listen to his instructions after a clinch. Cordina allowed Rakhimov to come forward and cranked a counter left hook. Right hands by the local favourite also caused a cut over Rakhimov’s left eye.

This momentum would continue into the following rounds as the damage around Rahkimov’s left eye increased due to the number of right hands Cordina was able to land with ease. Rahkimov was wobbled and staggered with a sense of a possible stoppage being sensed by the partisan crowd. 

The champion would rally in the ninth round, swing back the momentum, and hurt Cordina on several occasions. Rakhimov landed on the body and also connected with a combination upstairs.

Cordina, in round ten, would land jabs and straight right hands upstairs. Rakhimov bit down and fired off body shots late in the frame, though his left eye was nearly swollen shut by that point.

Rahkimov was walking down Cordina in round eleven before he ran into a flurry of shots by Cordina. The two fought on tight terms in the twelfth and final round to provide nervous moments before hearing the official verdict. 

After a long wait and much deliberating, the official scorecards read 114-113 & 115-112 in favour of Cordina & 116-112 in favour of Rahkimov.