Joe Cordina stripped of title

Undefeated Welsh boxer Joe Cordina was stripped of his world featherweight title without making a single defense after pulling out of his upcoming fight due to a hand injury.

Joe Cordina and Eddie Hearn. Photo by Matthew Power, Matchroom Boxing
Joe Cordina and Eddie Hearn. Photo by Matthew Power, Matchroom Boxing

Cordina, 30, won the IBF 130-pound (59 kg) world title in June with a knockout Kenichi Ogawa and increased his unbeaten record to 15 fights. He had to defend his belt against the undefeated Shavkat Rakhimova on the battle undercard Dmitry Bivol against Gilberto Ramirez November 5, but was forced to withdraw from his title defense just over a month before the fight due to a hand injury.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) has informed Cordina that he will be stripped of his world title for refusing to fight, as #1 contender Rakhimov has now been named contender to fight Zelfa Barrett for the vacant belt. The Welshman, who recently underwent surgery due to an injury, commented on the news: “Terrible upset. I worked all my life to become a world champion and I didn't even have a chance to defend the title. I feel like I've been robbed."

Two months ago, the IBF granted Cordina a medical reprieve so he could fight Rakhimov, who received a release clause for allowing Cordina to fight Ogawa in November. The federation granted Cordina another medical clearance, which will expire on January 4 next year, but the Welshman will not be able to compete until about March, and therefore was stripped of the title.

Rakhimov's fight with Barrett will be his second chance to win the world title after he tied the fight with Joseph Diaz Jr. in February last year. Diaz failed to make weight before the fight, so the IBF belt was vacant. Rakhimov's new opponent, Barrett, is undefeated in his last nine fights and will fight for the world title for the first time in his career.

Dmitry Bivol's light heavyweight title defense against Gilberto Ramirez will headline Matchroom Boxing's evening of boxing on November 5 in Abu Dhabi. In addition to the fight between Rakhimov and Barrett, the card will also feature a fight for the title of absolute super lightweight champion between Shantel Cameron and Jessica McCaskill.


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