In one of the more frustrating pieces of news from the world of boxing, Joe Cordina has been stripped of his IBF Super Featherweight World Title just four months after winning it via a knockout fit for a champion that will certainly be considered for the best of the year.
The undefeated Welshman’s fairytale has come crashing down as the IBF ruthlessly dispossessed him of the belt for not being able to fulfil a previously agreed mandatory challenge. The reason? A hand injury from training that required surgery.
Cordina had an agreement in place with the IBF that the winner of his bout in July with Kenichi Ogawa, then champion, would face Shavkat Rakhimov by September of this year. After taking the belt from Ogawa, the Welsh Olympian was granted a medical extension, followed by another. Now, due to the surgery, Cordina will be out of the ring until early next year. The IBF wasted no time in taking back the belt.
Whilst the organisation sticking strictly to their rules in a sport when others often don’t could be commended, the situation for Cordina seems particularly harsh given the circumstances. Pair that with the wealth of interim belts and champions in recess that we see throughout boxing, it begs the question – could an agreement have been reached?
The now-former champion was understandably down. Taking to Twitter, he shared his feelings with fans as well as a picture of the injured hand following surgery.
“Absolutely gutted. Worked my whole life to become a world champion and I haven’t even had the chance to defend the title. Feel like I’ve been robbed!!”
Absolutely gutted 🤦🏻♂️
— Joe Cordina OLY (@JoeCordina_91) October 4, 2022
Big names from the boxing world including Lawrence Okolie, Dave Coldwell, and Ebanie Bridges shared his disdain for the decision. Former Cruiserweight World Champion, Tony Bellew, offered his support, confident that Cordina will be back at the pinnacle once more.
“You will be back champ! You are mentally very strong and have been through these times before! Remain focused at the task at hand for now! Your time will come and you will reign supreme at this weight!”
Cordina’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, teased big things were to come for the Welshman. In the mean time, it appears that recovery is all he’ll be focusing on – but when he can return to the ring, it’s likely this ordeal will only fuel him more.
Rakhimov should now face Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett for the vacant title, with a date and venue yet to be announced.