Joe Cordina uncorked a monster overhand right to flatten Kenichi Ogawa in the second round and claim the IBF super-featherweight title in Cardiff.
It was the finest punch the Welshman – more known as a smart boxer than a big banger – had ever thrown. And it came on the biggest night of his life as he became Wales’s 13th world champion. It was also the kind of showreel finish that could set Cordina up as a superstar in the Principality.
“We call it the Roberto Duran, we have been working on it all camp,” Cordina said of his finishing shot. “It’s an amazing feeling when you put hours and hours and hours of work into a combination or a punch and then you put it into a fight and it comes off and lights out.”
Ogawa hadn’t seemed the least bit intimidated by the hostile home crowd all week. But then his best wins had been on the road – claiming the title by beating Azinga Fuzile in New York last November, having previously claimed the title from Tevin Farmer in Las Vegas, before the title was handed back after the Japanese boxer failed a drug test.
There was a positive start from Cordina, who looked to hold his ground and meet Ogawa with punches as the champion came forward. But as Ogawa kept going forward, he landed a solid left hook and then followed through with a three-punch combination that seemed to land, although Cordina came back with a solid left jab.
But if the champion was gaining confidence, he soon had that all swept away in the second round by a single hard right cross from Cordina a minute into the second round.
Cordina, 30, seemed to pick the punch up from his boots and it landed flush over the top of Ogawa’s guard. The champion’s legs went from under him, leaving him lying on his back as referee Michael Alexander took up the count. The champion managed to somehow raise himself to his haunches as the count reached eight, but he fell back down again, as Alexander waved it off and the ring was invaded. The official time was 1:15 of round two.
Celebrations were temporarily put on hold as Ogawa was treated on the canvas, but he soon regained his feet himself before sitting down on his stool.
No wonder Eddie Hearn, the promoter, was first in the ring to embrace his new champion. His Matchroom stable has been crying out for new stars and Cordina’s triumph, in a red-hot division, has come along at just the right time.
“It feels amazing,” Cordina said. “He is down as a puncher on paper, but it was nothing I hadn’t felt before. But I had sparred with Conor Benn for this so that doesn’t compare.”
A unification fight against Shakur Stevenson, the WBC and WBO champion, was mentioned, although that is unlikely to be next.
“It’s how you win a world title and people questioned the power of Joe Cordina,” Hearn said. “Tonight, he announced himself to the world.
If Welsh boxing needed a shot in the arm, this is the young man to do it. Shakur Stevenson is an unbelievable talent but that is the sort of level of dream Joe Cordina has got to have to become undisputed.”