Wales’ Joe Cordina (14-0-0) looks to become world champion this Saturday night in his beloved Cardiff at the Motorpoint Arena against Japan’s recently crowned IBF super-featherweight champ Kenichi Ogowa (26-1-1). The latter secured the strap in November of last year when he unanimously outpointed Azinga Fuzile in New York and will be hoping to succeed in his first defence in the lion’s den in South Wales. Cordina meanwhile has at times lacked momentum in his pro career so far after turning over six years ago but a victory this weekend will propel his career to never-seen-before heights for the Welshman as mega dustups at world level open up for him.
The talent of the thirty-year-old Cordina cannot be denied, one only need look at his amateur pedigree to be sure of his capabilities. After picking up the Commonwealth strap versus Sean Dodd in 2018, he added the British title eight months later when he stopped Andy Townend inside six. The rest of 2019 saw one defence of the straps versus Gavin Gwynne before a unanimous victory over tough Mexican Mario Enrique Tinoco. 2020 was a write-off as it was for most fighters due to lockdowns caused by the pandemic, and 2021 saw three victories against relatively unknown fighters with decent records as Cordina closed in on a world title shot.
Such an opportunity has now opened itself up for this Saturday against a more than capable defending world champion in Ogawa, a title he intends to keep beyond this weekend as he fights in front of what will surely be a less than welcoming Cardiff crowd. The Tokyo man is no stranger to fighting on away soil, outpointing Fuzile last time out in New York to pickup the IBF strap, and was initially announced a split-decision winner over former world champion Tevin Farmer before he then tested positive for a banned substance, leading to the fight to later be ruled a no-contest.
Ogowa no doubt possesses power in his fists, winning eighteen of his twenty-six victories inside the distance, and had Fuzile on the floor in both the fifth and twelfth rounds when he picked up the strap. Cordina isn’t exactly feather-fisted however, with a tally of eight knockouts in fourteen fights to his name, particularly impressive for a fighter who’s not associated with an aggressive style. While the Welshman likely enters the fight as an underdog, his technical ability puts him as one of the most naturally talented British fighters at this level, and no doubt his adoring Welsh fans will do all they can to push their man over the line.
The chief support on Saturday night sees another big super-featherweight clash, this time with the EBU European title on the line between defending champion Faroukh Kourbanov (19-3-0) and British challenger Zelfa Barrett (27-1-0). Barrett finds himself just ahead of Cordina in the IBF rankings (Barrett second, Cordina third), despite it being the Welshman competing for the strap this weekend, and promoter Eddie Hearn has said that providing the Manchester man does his bit this weekend that he will be facing the winner of the main event next. Kourbanov is no slouch however, and pushed Cordina for ten rounds in a majority decision win for the Welshman.
Further down the card, Dalton Smith (10-0-0) returns at super-lightweight in a ten-round contest against Mauro Perouene (14-5-1) as he looks to continue to mark himself as one of the standout prospects currently operating within British boxing. At featherweight, Tokyo 2020 Olympian Skye Nicolson (3-0-0) fights for the fourth time in three months, this time in a step-up against former world champion Gabriela Bouvier (15-10-1) as her professional development continues. 140-pounder Calum French (2-0-0) returns for his third pro outing over eight rounds against Gadatamen Taylor (4-9-1), and Gamal Yafai (18-2-0) returns at super-bantamweight for the first time since his surprise defeat to Jason Cunningham last year with Sean Cairns (8-3-0) in the opposing corner this time out.
Welterweight Joe Morgan (3-0-0) fights for the fourth time as a professional against Rustem Fatkhullin (8-32-0), while fellow 147-pounder Ben Crocker (3-0-0) faces Evgenii Vazem (9-29-0) over four rounds. Monique Bux makes her professional debut at super-middleweight over four, two-minute rounds against Ester Konecna (1-15-1), while Kyran Jones (3-0-0) faces off against Vasif Mamedov (2-17-3) at middleweight.