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Shavkat Rakhimov defends against Joe Cordina on April 22nd on DAZN

Image: Shavkat Rakhimov defends against Joe Cordina on April 22nd on DAZN

By Jake Tiernan: IBF super featherweight champion Shavkat Rakhimov (17-0-1, 14 KOs) will be back in action on April 22nd, defending against #3 Joe Cordina on DAZN at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.

The 31-year-old Cardiff native Cordina (15-0, 9 KOs) will have the hometown advantage over the Los Angeles resident Rakhimov. Whether that will be enough to carry Cordina to victory remains to be seen.

The southpaw Rakhimov is a big puncher, and he’s quite accustomed to fighting on the road. He destroyed British fighter Zelfa Barrett by a ninth round knockout last November in Abu Dhabi. Rakhimov, a native of Tajikistani, captured the vacant IBF super featherweight title with his win over Barrett.

After being knocked down in the third round by Barrett, Rakhimov came storming back, battering Barrett with powerful left hands, dropping him twice in the ninth round to get the knockout.

Cordina’s big chance

“April 22, Cardiff, I cannot wait,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom boxing, talking about the Rakhimov vs. Cordina fight. “The last time, it was amazing against Ogawa.

“This time, it’s going to be banged out so quickly because this time, it’s going to be a massive night for Welsh boxing, a massive night for British boxing, and a massive night for Joe Cordina.

“Forget what happened with the IBF. He [Cordina] was unfortunate. The rules are the rules. He’s got a straight shot to be a two-time world champion without ever losing. We saw Rakhimov being in an unbelievable fight with Zelfa Barrett.

“Zelfa Barrett will also be the co-main event for this card. Wants a shot against Joe Cordina if he can come through it. We’d love to make that fight. But for Joe Cordina, this is a massive fight. I saw him after the Ogawa fight.

“I believed he could go on and unify the division, and I believed he could go on to become a real star. Now, this fight will put him to another level. It’s going to be a great fight against Rakhimov.

“The atmosphere is going to be incredible. As I said, Zelfa Barrett will be on this card and a big, big card in Wales come April 22nd,” said Hearn.

Cordina can dish it out, as we saw recently with his second round knockout win over Kenichi Ogawa last June in Cardiff, to capture the IBF super featherweight title. However, that’s the only world-level fighter on Cordina’s record.

You hate to take credit away from Cordina, but the 35-year-old Ogawa has seen better days after turning pro thirteen years ago in 2010. We don’t know if Cordina can take punishment from a talented fighter with punching power like Rakhimov.

Rakhimov’s power could be problem

It’ll be interesting to see if Cordina can have the same kind of success against Rakhimov that he did against Ogawa. Unfortunately for Cordina, he can’t count on Rakhimov being old & past it like Ogawa because he’s in the prime of his career at 28, and he won’t have the slowed reflexes that we saw with Kenichi.

The former IBF 130-lb champion Cordina was stripped of his title by the International Boxing Federation after injuring his hand while training for a title defense against Rakhimov.

As I mentioned earlier, Rakhimov then fought Barrett for the vacant IBF super featherweight title and stopped him in the ninth round in a sensational performance.

Rakhimov turned professional in 2015, and he has wins over Azinga Fuzile, Malcolm Klassen, Robinson Castellanos, and Emanuel López. In 2021, Rakhimov fought to a 12 round draw against Joseph Diaz Jr.

That was a fight in which Rakhimov dominated the action earlier in the contest but then gassed a little in the championship rounds.

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