Cordina lights up Fight Camp finale

After a largely pedestrian undercard, Cardiff talent Joe Cordina brought welcome dazzle with a razor-sharp, first-round blowout of Chicago’s Joshuah Hernandez in the chief support to Buatsi-Bolotniks at Matchroom’s final Fight Camp in Brentwood on Saturday night.

The outgunned American was dismissed in just 53 seconds as a rejuvenated Cordina, fully recovered after right hand surgery and ring rust, immediately set about the visitor with a rapier jab and thudding right hand. 

In the brief time the fight lasted, Cordina (13-0, 8 KOs) looked in livewire form before a perfectly-timed right ended Hernandez’s night within the opening minute. Hernandez (10-4, 8 KOs) rose gingerly but failed to beat referee Lee Every’s count.

An accomplished amateur, former British and Commonwealth champion Cordina has the skill and credentials to challenge the 130lbs elite. Now he’s ready for that crucial step up after being hampered by injury and inactivity in a stop-start pro career.

“[WBA Interim belt holder] Chris Colbert went eight rounds with Hernandez and, what I watched of it, it was quite a tough fight for him,” Cordina told Matchroom afterwards. “I watched that fight and a couple others of Hernandez and me and Tony [Sims] came up with a game plan. We were going through [it] in the changing rooms and it came off a peach.

“I had to prove a point, I said in an interview earlier in the week that I don’t take criticism from people I wouldn’t go to for advice. I don’t really value many people’s opinions so yeah, it’s one of those things, you’re going to get people criticising and it’s whether you take it onboard or not. A lot of people didn’t take into consideration that I’d been out the ring for 16 months, had an operation of my hand, we proved the point tonight and got him out of there early on.

“I always look to just get the win, box, if the knockout is there, I’ll take it. As soon as he threw his first jab, I knew he wasn’t going to catch me with that, my sharpness of feet and head movement would get me out of trouble. I started putting my lead hand downstairs and whipping the right hand over the top and I caught him the first time, I knew he was a little bit wobbly. I didn’t want to rush in and try and get him out of there straight away, I knew if I could catch him twice with it there’s going to be a third time and I did exactly that. We got him out of there in great fashion.”

‘The Problem’ won’t go away. Following his breakout win over Chris Kongo in March, Michael McKinson maintained his higher profile among the bustling welterweight division with a comprehensive points win over befuddled Pole Przemyslaw Runowski. Scores were 99-91 (twice) and 98-92.

Southpaw McKinson controlled the pace from the opening bell, with a persistent jab and some solid left-hand work. The Portsmouth fighter wobbled an off-balance Runowski with a left hand in the second as he remained firmly in command.

When McKinson spun the Pole’s head with a right hook in the third, the visitor tore in like a wounded animal before being jabbed back into his place. The crude Runowski (19-2, 5 KOs) was one-dimensional and McKinson handled him with ease, staggering the Pole in the fourth and cruising on auto-pilot.

Jabbing effectively, McKinson (21-0, 2 KOs) briefly switched to orthodox in the fifth as he outfoxed and outboxed the lunging visitor in relative comfort. He set his feet more in the sixth, reeling off a sturdy left uppercut, with his engagement presenting a glimmer of hope for the desperate Runowski.

After the uncompromising McKinson bossed the seventh, a brisk left-right in the eighth proved a rare riposte from the visitor. McKinson dictated without ever threatening a stoppage as he cantered to a points win.

Following a couple of defensively porous performances, Glasgow’s Kash Farooq was more in keeping with his ‘Untouchable’ nickname, scoring an accomplished and one-sided points victory over gutsy Mexican Luis Gerardo Castillo. Scores were 100-90 (twice) and 100-91.

Deaf and mute, Castillo is no stranger to adversity and showed more commendable courage in the ring. But ultimately Farooq was far too cute and clinical in an improved showing. Farooq’s shots were crisper early, but Castillo’s lusty right-hand wallops were a cause for concern. But the former British champion was more mobile and incisive than in recent contests, ripping Castillo (28-3, 18 KOs) with sharp jabs and pinpoint right hands before dancing away from danger. 

Farooq’s competitive instinct drew him into an inside battle early in the fourth. That probably presented Castillo’s best chance of victory but the Scotsman’s chin held firm. Farooq (16-1, 6 KOs) was too nimble, seemingly pulling away on the cards with his faster flurries and footwork.

With a mouse emerging under his right eye, Castillo threshed away and attacked with more urgency in the seventh. But Farooq retained his discipline, not getting drawn into a firefight that could threaten victory. Castillo’s legs slowed demonstrably as Farooq clocked him with razor sharp right hands in the eighth. The visitor pressed for the stoppage in the last, but it was too little, too late to change the outcome.

Earlier, New Jersey southpaw Raymond Ford caught the eye with a third-round blitz of former Commonwealth featherweight champion Reece Bellotti. This was an intriguing match-up oddly buried in the early action before the main DAZN broadcast, but in reality the quicksilver Ford was too swift and savvy for the more experienced Englishman.

Having been held to a surprise draw by Aaron Perez last time out in March, the flashy Ford (9-0-1, 5 KOs) stole an early march with his faster hands and brisk combinations. Watford’s Bellotti pressed throughout, firing a warning shot in the second when he drilled the American with a stiff right hand.

But Ford was on a different level, stunning the aggressive Brit with a sweet right hook counter in the third and then reeling off a rapid volley of blows. A dazed Bellotti (14-5, 12 KOs) remained on his feet but was unable to stem the quick-fire assault when referee Michael Alexander stepped in. Ford certainly has the talent to make some waves at featherweight.

Promising Leeds super-bantam Hopey Price won a solid six-round workout over previously unbeaten Italian Claudio Grande, sealing the victory with a heavy knockdown from the last punch of the fight before the bell rang. Referee Mark Bates scored 58-55.

Southpaw Price (5-0, 1 KO) shrugged off early pressure to buzz Grande with some flush left hands in the second. Still only 21, the rangy Price is growing into his frame and punching with greater pop and precision. But Grande regrouped and brought hustle, pressing without threatening an upset. The well-schooled Price was usually a pace ahead and dropped the onrushing Grande with a left hand just before the final bell. Grande (5-1, 3 KOs) rose to deservedly last the distance.

Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (26-1, 16 KOs) had far too much in his locker for Romanian veteran Viorel Simion (22-7, 9 KOs), earning a fourth-round retirement victory in the 135lbs show-opener. 

Last seen scoring a controversial yet oddly wide decision over former world champion Kiko Martinez in February, Barrett enjoyed a far easier night’s work, riddling the 39-year-old visitor with sharp and sickening body shots that earned a knockdown in the first round. After straying low on several occasions, the fresher Mancunian punished Simion on the ropes in the fourth before the Romanian was sensibly withdrawn by his corner. 

Photo: Ian Walton/Matchroom Boxing.