Joe Cordina regained a title he’d never lost in the ring, beating Shavkat Rakhimov by split decision today in Cardiff to take back the IBF junior lightweight title.
Cordina got two cards of 114-113 and 115-112 in his favor, with Rakhimov taking the other card on a 116-111 tally. Usually, when you get scores like that and a home fighter won, you suspect home cooking, but I just don’t see it. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight 117-110 for Cordina, who scored a second round knockdown and clearly did the more damage in the fight.
That’s not to take anything away from Rakhimov (17-1-1, 14 KO), who was plenty dangerous on through the end of the fight, and did some good work to the body, especially. He appeared to possibly hurt his right hand in the middle of the bout, but he hung tough in there, and it has to be said, too, that this was a tremendous fight in front of an excellent crowd.
Cordina (16-0, 9 KO) won the IBF belt from Kenichi Ogawa last June in Cardiff with a blistering second round knockout, but was stripped late in 2022 due to an injury preventing him from making the mandatory defense against Rakhimov, who instead fought and beat Zelfa Barrett for the vacant belt.
The two finally came together to settle it, and they put on a bout that, for action and excitement, will be hard to top by anything on tonight’s Davis vs Garcia card.
Rakhimov vs Cordina highlights
Undercard highlights and results
- Sandy Ryan UD-10 Marie-Pier Houle: Houle fought hard here, but Ryan truly did do enough, and now Ryan (6-1, 2 KO) holds the WBO welterweight title, which was vacant coming into the bout, Jessica McCaskill no longer undisputed queen at 147. Ryan started a bit tight here, and Houle (8-1-1, 2 KO) was fighting loose and free, but once Ryan started getting it going in the third, she mostly took over. A good fight, though, and Houle was honestly better in defeat here, against a better opponent, than she was in her horrible robbery win in January in Quebec, which is what got her this fight in the first place. She fought like she had nothing to lose and made it competitive. Scores were 97-93, 98-92, and 99-91. I had it 97-93, for what it’s worth.
- Gavin Gwynne TKO-5 Craig Woodruff: These two went to a surprising draw in Bolton last September, with a fair few believing Woodruff deserved the upset. Not this time, as Gywnne (16-2-1, 4 KO) just dominated this fight from the second round on, taking it to Woodruff (12-7-1, 4 KO) relentlessly until referee Michael Alexander rightly stepped in to stop it in round five. At that point, Gywnne had been completely battering Woodruff for a round and change, and Woodruff was just not throwing enough.
- Zelfa Barrett UD-12 Jason Sanchez: Sanchez was game all the way, but never got the momentum he would have needed for an upset. And Zelfa was inconsistent in spots but mostly fought a very smart fight, I think. So he got clear cards of 116-111, 118-110, and 119-108, and deserved them. We scored it 117-110 on our unofficial card. Barrett, along with boxing smart, also did some real damage, dropping Sanchez (16-4, 9 KO) in the fifth round, and pretty hard at that. He never really pressed after that, but also didn’t really need to, either. On his game. Barrett (29-2, 16 KO) can beat anyone in the 130 lb division right now, and he’ll probably get another crack at a title sooner than later.
- Jordan Thompson TKO-6 Luke Watkins: Solid, domestic-level cruiserweight fight here. Thompson (15-0, 12 KO) got a good stylistic test from Watkins (16-3, 11 KO), who honestly in many ways looked like the better, more well-rounded boxer, but his shots weren’t making a difference. Thompson’s did, and power can carry you a long way if you make the rest of your game even competent. The 29-year-old Thompson chipped away and then dropped Watkins twice on body shots in round six, leading to the stoppage. Definitely a fight where Thompson got to learn a little, and so did we as observers. Some good about Thompson, some a little more questionable at higher levels, but useful all around for everyone, wasn’t a showcase or mismatch.