Joe Cordina will make his first world title defence before the end of the year.
The Welshman captured the IBF super-featherweight crown in spectacular fashion in the summer, taking out the champion inside two rounds.
Cordina reminded undefeated at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff in June, exclusively live on DAZN, dispatching of Kenichi Ogawa with a sensational right hand.
And the 30-year-old will be back between the ropes on November 5 when he takes on his mandatory challenger.
The man of Maltese descent (15-0, 9 KOs) will put his unblemished ledger at stake at the Emirates Arena in Abu Dhabi against Shavkat Rakhimov.
The Tajikistan-born 28-year-old is a southpaw and is managed by Egis Klimas, the manager of WBO, IBF, IBO, WBO and Ring Magazine world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
He is based in Los Angeles and was last in action in Ekaterinburg, Russia, when he retired Sardor Muzaffarov at the end of the second round back in December 2021.
Building a huge card in @visitabudhabi on Nov 5th! @JoeCordina_91 will make the first defence of his World title against mandatory challenger @Rakhmonov1994 live on @daznboxing 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Lcj2q2Ct3q
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) August 31, 2022
Cordina is delighted to be boxing in the Middle East, as part of a card featuring the WBA light-heavyweight world title clash between Dmitry Bivol and mandatory challenger Gilberto Ramirez.
In a Matchroom press release he said:
“I know it’s going to be a tough fight so I’m going to be prepared for 12 hard rounds.
“I know I’m going to have to bite down on my gumshield and dig my toes in. It’s going to get tough in there but I’m going to be prepared for that.
“Nothing has really changed since I won the belt back in June. My mentality is still the same, I still want to be the best in the world – I want to win more titles. I’ve reached my goal of becoming a world champion but now I’ve set new goals which include becoming a unified and undisputed world champion.”
Rakhimov (16-0-1, 13 KOs) challenged for the vacant IBF belt against an overweight Joseph Diaz at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California last year – pushing the American all the way in a majority draw for the title that only he could win.
‘Shere Khan’ was presented with a second opportunity to fight for the crown against the aforementioned Japanese Ogawa but was forced to withdraw from the scheduled bout due to injury, giving Cordina the chance to build on his amateur success in the pro ranks.
Eddie Hearn, the Matchroom head honcho who announced the company’s first ever show in the United Arab Emirates earlier this week, believes bigger things are to come from Cordina.
“[This is] just the start of the journey for Welsh boxing’s latest star.
“Joe has ambitions of becoming undisputed at 130lbs but first he needs to get past an incredibly tough first defence.”