Joe Cordina Sets Himself Up To Correct History

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Joe Cordina is already one of the greats of Welsh boxing, but for the former Olympian, there’s something missing. Ahead of his upcoming fight, Cordina is desperate to win back the WBF super-featherweight belt that he should never have lost.

Cardiff, UK: Kenichi Ogawa vs Joe Cordina, IBF Super-Featherweight World Title.
4 June 2022 Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing Joe Cordina crowned world champion after his 2nd round stoppage of Kenichi Ogawa

The boxer from Cardiff became Wales’ 13th world champion after he beat Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa with a stunning second round knockout back in June 2022. He threw the punch of a lifetime to join the history books alongside the likes of his heroes, Sugar Ray Leanard, Nassim Hamid, Chris Eubank and Floyd Mayweather, as world champion.

Cordina had then been due to defend his belt against his current opponent, Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, in November 2022, but the Welsh boxer was forced to have surgery on his injured hand that October, a month before the title fight.

After what has been a tough period for the boxer, he hopes now is his time to rewrite the past. Unbeaten in 15 professional fights and with nine knockouts, the Welsh Wizard is aiming to set the record straight and win back the belt that he believes is rightfully his. In a twist of fate, he will fight none other than Rakhimov in his home city of Cardiff on April 22.

On his opponent, Cordina said: “He’s the champion but I’m going in there confident. I have the experience of being a world champion; I haven’t lost my belts in the ring.

“To a lot of people, I’m still a champion, but I’ll have to be on my A game. I think I can out box him easily. If I do land on him, which I think I will, then there’s always a possibility I can get him out of there.

“I’ve seen other fighters hurt him; JoJo Diaz (Joseph Diaz Jnr) caused him issues with body shots. I can punch and when I’m landing, I’m going to hurt you, so I definitely have the tools to win this fight.

“There’s a huge amount of respect there, he’s got himself into a world champion title position and then he ended up fighting for a vacant title.

“He’s a good fighter; he’s tough, strong, and fit. But I’ve always said you have to have a little bit more than that to beat me.

“You’ve got to have a little bit of everything. And I haven’t seen him show me that he’s got a very good boxing brain.

“The greats of the sport are at the top of their sport because they use their brain; they don’t try and stand toe to toe whenever they’re with someone that’s physically stronger than them.

“They use their boxing ability and IQ to manoeuvre into a position so they can hit them and not be hit. And that’s what I plan on doing on April 22.”

Luckily for Cordina, there haven’t been any issues with his hand this time round as he prepares for his upcoming title fight.

After he was forced to relinquish the IBF feather-weight belt following his hand injury back in October 2022, Cordina felt robbed. Having worked all his life to win a world title, Cordina describes seeing it all slip away in the blink of an eye while at a training camp.

In his first sparring session, in the very first punch he threw, he knew something was wrong.

“I knew I’d done something straightaway. I stepped back, clenched my fists, and I could feel something popping in my hand. I went straight to see a surgeon.

“I wasn’t sure how long it would take to heal, and I didn’t have the luxury of time on my hands. I wanted to get straight back out there, but I knew it would only get worse, or it would just happen again.

“Those few weeks I found myself in a pretty dark place. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, whether I was going to continue boxing or have to get another job. I thought that could have been the end of my career.

“But then I spoke to my dad and my wife, they have both been there throughout my career and have seen all the sacrifices that I’ve gone through.

“We knew it would take time and the progress would be frustrating, but this is what I love to do. It’s why I get up in the morning, to look after my family.”

Cordina’s aim has always been to bring the sport into Wales. He has certainly not disappointed so far and hopes to continue his professional streak into this Spring.

“I started on the same day as Anthony Joshua at GB so for me to see how he’s progressed and what he’s gone on to do… I fought on a few of his undercards, and I could see exactly what it takes. I want to give that opportunity to young fighters now.

“Winning the title brought back memories of the travelling back and forth to Sheffield, grafting day in and day out for team GB,” the 31-year-old added. It was a huge moment for me, especially being in my hometown, on my doorstep, in front of my family and friends. It’s something I will never forget.”

The boxer’s journey has been immense, winning a bronze medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Wales in Glasgow, before taking gold in the 2015 European Amateur Championships and representing Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Since turning professional, the Welsh boxer has made a huge impact. Cordina has probably seen it all but insists he’s feeling better than ever as he and his coach, Tony Sims, look to devise a strategy ahead of his upcoming title fight.

“I’m always trying to improve, always looking for that next level. My coach sets out my training programme and whatever he says, I do. He knows when to step the training up.

“He’s done it hundreds of times. He’s trained world champions and he know how to get fighters ready for a world title fight. The camp has been unbelievable. I’m enjoying my training at the moment; I’m going to peak at the perfect time.

“Some people dread training every day. Don’t get me wrong, I dread training it too, but at the same time, I’m happy. I’m happy with where I’m at and I’m happy with the progression I’m making in the gym. I’m in a good place.

“When I first went with Tony, I knew straight away he was someone I wanted to be with. He didn’t let me punch a bag for a week, it was all shadowboxing, because he says that’s how you see people’s mistakes and see how they move away from someone.

“From my first fight, I’ve progressed. I fought for the WBA title in my sixth fight. I’ve progressed through to the British titles, the Commonwealth titles, and intercontinental titles to get where I am today.

“It’s been a long journey, but there is so much learning that you have to do. The step up to professional level is huge, but you have to keep improving. Everyone has their eyes on you and if you have one chink in your armour, you will be punished.

“I have still got more to learn as a boxer. I don’t think there is a boxer that is perfect, there’s always room for improvement.”

Mae Joe Cordina yn bwriadu cywiro hanes

Mae Joe Cordina eisoes yn un o fawrion bocsio Cymru, ond i’r cyn-Olympiad, mae ‘na rywbeth ar goll. Cyn ei ornest sydd ar ddod, mae Cordina yn ysu am ennill yn ôl y gwregys uwch bwysau plu’r WBF nad yw’n credu dylai fyth fod wedi’i golli.

Daeth y bocsiwr o Gaerdydd yn 13eg bencampwr y byd o Gymru ar ôl iddo guro Kenichi Ogawa o Japan gydag ergyd loriol ail rownd syfrdanol yn ôl ym mis Mehefin 2022. Canlyniad yr ergyd honno oedd iddo ymuno â’r llyfrau hanes, ochr yn ochr â phobl fel ei arwyr, Sugar Ray Leonard, Nassim Hamid, Chris Eubank a Floyd Mayweather, fel pencampwr y byd.

Roedd Cordina wedyn i fod i amddiffyn ei wregys yn erbyn ei wrthwynebydd presennol, Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, ym mis Tachwedd 2022, ond bu’n rhaid i’r bocsiwr Cymreig gael llawdriniaeth ar ei law anafedig y mis Hydref hwnnw, fis cyn y gornest deitl.

Cafodd y gwregys ei thynnu o Cordina ar ôl iddi fod yn amlwg na fyddai’n barod i ymladd mewn pryd.  Cymerodd Rakhimov y gwregys IBF a oedd yn wag ar y pryd ar ôl curo Zelfa Barrett ar is-gerdyn Dmitry Bivol a Gilberto Zurdo Ramirez ym mis Tachwedd, yr un noson yr oedd iddo fod ymladd yn erbyn Cordina.

Ar ôl yr hyn sydd wedi bod yn gyfnod anodd i’r bocsiwr, mae’n gobeithio mai nawr yw ei amser i ailysgrifennu’r gorffennol. Yn ddiguro mewn 15 o ornestau proffesiynol a gyda naw ergyd loriol, mae’r Dewin Cymreig yn anelu at gywiro’i sefyllfa ac ennill y gwregys yn ôl, y gwregys mae’n credu sy’n haeddiannol iddo. Ac mewn tro annisgwyl, bydd yn ymladd yn erbyn neb llai na Rakhimov yn ei ddinas enedigol, Caerdydd, ar Ebrill 22.

O ran ei wrthwynebydd, dywedodd Cordina: “Fe yw’r pencampwr ond dwi’n mynd i mewn i’r gornest yn hyderus. Mae gen i’r profiad o fod yn bencampwr byd; dydw i heb golli unrhyw wregys yn y ring.

“I lot o bobl, dwi dal yn bencampwr, ond bydd rhaid i fi fod ar fy ngorau. Dwi’n meddwl mod i’n gallu ei drechu. Os ydw i’n llwyddo glanio’r ergyd iawn, a dwi’n meddwl y byddaf, yna mae wastad posibilrwydd y gallaf ei drechu.

“Rwyf wedi gweld bocswyr eraill yn ei frifo; achosodd JoJo Diaz (Joseph Diaz Jnr) broblemau iddo gydag ergydion corff. Dwi’n gallu dyrnu a phan dwi’n glanio ergyd, dwi’n mynd i dy frifo di, felly mae’n bendant gen i’r offer i ennill y gornest hwn.

“Mae llawer iawn o barch yno, mae wedi cyrraedd safle teitl pencampwr y byd ac yna gorffennodd e fyny mewn gornest am deitl gwag.

“Mae’n ymladdwr da; mae e’n galed, yn gryf, ac yn ffit. Ond dwi wastad wedi dweud bod yn rhaid i chi gael ychydig bach mwy na hynny i’m curo i.

“Mae’n rhaid i chi gael ychydig bach o bopeth.  A dwi heb ei weld yn dangos i mi fod ganddo ymennydd bocsio da iawn.

“Mae mawrion y gamp ar y brig gan eu bod yn defnyddio eu hymennydd; dydyn nhw ddim yn ceisio sefyll wyneb yn wyneb pryd bynnag maen nhw gyda rhywun sy’n gryfach yn gorfforol na nhw.

“Maen nhw’n defnyddio’u gallu a deallusrwydd bocsio i symud i sefyllfa fel eu bod nhw’n gallu taro eu gwrthwynebydd a pheidio cael eu taro’u hunain. A dyna dwi’n bwriadu ei wneud ar Ebrill 22.”

Yn ffodus i Cordina, ni fu unrhyw broblemau gyda’i law y tro hwn wrth iddo baratoi ar gyfer ei ornest deitl sydd ar ddod.

Ar ôl iddo gael ei orfodi i ildio’r gwregys pwysau plu IBF yn dilyn ei anaf i’w law nôl ym mis Hydref 2022, roedd Cordina yn teimlo fel bod popeth wedi cael eu dwyn oddi wrtho. Ar ôl gweithio ar hyd ei oes i ennill teitl byd, mae Cordina’n disgrifio gweld y cyfan yn llithro i ffwrdd mewn chwinciad pan oedd mewn gwersyll ymarfer.

Yn ei sesiwn sbario gyntaf, yn y dyrniad cyntaf un a daflodd, roedd yn gwybod bod rhywbeth o’i le.

“O’n i’n gwybod mod i wedi gwneud rhywbeth yn syth.  Camais yn ôl, gwasgu fy nyrnau, a gallwn deimlo rhywbeth yn popian yn fy llaw. Es i’n syth i weld llawfeddyg.

“Doeddwn i ddim yn siŵr pa mor hir fyddai’n cymryd i wella, a doedd gen i lawer o amser. Roeddwn i eisiau mynd yn syth nôl allan, ond roeddwn i’n gwybod y byddai ond yn gwaethygu, neu byddai’n digwydd eto.

“Yr wythnosau hynny cefais fy hun mewn lle eithaf tywyll.  Doeddwn i ddim yn siŵr beth oedd yn mynd i ddigwydd nesaf, a oeddwn i’n mynd i barhau i focsio neu orfod cael swydd arall. Roeddwn i’n meddwl y gallai hynny fod wedi bod yn ddiwedd ar fy ngyrfa.

“Ond wedyn wnes i siarad gyda fy nhad a fy ngwraig, mae’r ddau wedi bod yno drwy gydol fy ngyrfa ac wedi gweld yr holl aberthau dwi wedi mynd trwyddynt.

“Roedden ni’n gwybod y byddai’n cymryd amser a byddai’r cynnydd yn rhwystredig, ond dyma dwi’n caru ei wneud.  Dyna pam dwi’n codi yn y bore, i edrych ar ôl fy nheulu.”

Nod Cordina erioed oedd dod â’r gamp i Gymru. Yn sicr, nid yw wedi siomi hyd yma ac mae’n gobeithio parhau â’i gyfnod proffesiynol i’r Gwanwyn eleni.

“Dechreuais i ar yr un diwrnod ag Anthony Joshua yn GB felly i mi weld sut mae e wedi symud ymlaen a beth mae e wedi mynd ymlaen i’w wneud… Ymladdais ar ambell un o’i is-gardiau, a gallwn weld yn union beth mae’n ei gymryd. Rwyf am roi’r cyfle hwnnw i focswyr ifanc nawr.

“Roedd ennill y teitl yn dod ag atgofion yn ôl o’r teithio yn ôl ac ymlaen i Sheffield, yn gweithio o ddydd i ddydd i dîm GB,” ychwanegodd y gŵr 31 oed. Roedd e’n foment enfawr i fi, yn enwedig bod yn fy nhref enedigol, ar fy stepen drws, o flaen fy nheulu a ffrindiau.  Mae’n rhywbeth na fydda i byth yn ei anghofio.”

Bu taith y bocsiwr yn aruthrol, gan ennill medal efydd yng Ngemau’r Gymanwlad 2014 dros Gymru yng Nglasgow, cyn cipio’r aur ym Mhencampwriaethau Amatur Ewrop 2015 a chynrychioli Prydain Fawr yng Ngemau Olympaidd Rio 2016.

Ers troi’n broffesiynol, mae’r bocsiwr o Gymru wedi cael effaith enfawr.  Mae’n debyg bod Cordina wedi gweld y cyfan ond yn mynnu ei fod yn teimlo’n well nag erioed wrth iddo ef a’i hyfforddwr, Tony Sims, geisio dyfeisio strategaeth cyn ei ornest deitl sydd ar ddod.

“Dwi wastad yn ceisio gwella, wastad yn chwilio am y lefel nesaf yna.  Mae fy hyfforddwr yn nodi fy rhaglen ymarfer, a beth bynnag mae’n ei ddweud, rwy’n ei wneud. Mae’n gwybod pryd i gynyddu’r hyfforddiant

“Mae e wedi ei wneud cannoedd o weithiau. Mae wedi hyfforddi pencampwyr y byd ac mae’n gwybod sut i gael bocswyr yn barod am ornest deitl y byd. Mae’r gwersyll wedi bod yn anghredadwy.  Dwi’n mwynhau fy ymarfer ar hyn o bryd; Dwi’n mynd i gyrraedd y brig ar yr adeg berffaith.

“Mae ymarfer bob dydd yn codi ofn ar rai pobl. Peidiwch â’m cam-ddeall, mae’n codi ofn arna’i hefyd, ond ar yr un pryd, dwi’n hapus. Dwi’n hapus gyda lle dwi wedi cyrraedd a dwi’n hapus gyda’r dilyniant dwi’n ei wneud yn y gampfa. Dwi mewn lle da.

“Pan es i gyda Tony am y tro cyntaf, ro’n i’n gwybod yn syth ei fod yn rhywun ro’n i eisiau bod gyda nhw.  Wnaeth e ddim gadael i mi ddyrnu bag bocsio am wythnos, roedd y cyfan yn focsio cysgod, achos mae’n dweud mai dyna sut ti’n gweld camgymeriadau pobl a gweld sut maen nhw’n symud i ffwrdd oddi wrth rywun.

“O fy ornest gyntaf, dwi wedi symud ymlaen.  Nes i frwydro am deitl WBA yn fy chweched gornest. Rwyf wedi symud ymlaen i’r teitlau Prydeinig, teitlau’r Gymanwlad, a theitlau rhyng-gyfandirol i gyrraedd lle ydw i heddiw.

“Mae hi wedi bod yn daith hir, ond mae cymaint o ddysgu mae’n rhaid i chi ei wneud.  Mae’r cam i fyny i lefel broffesiynol yn enfawr, ond mae’n rhaid i chi barhau i wella.  Mae gan bawb eu llygaid arnoch chi ac os oes gennych chi un hollt yn eich arfwisg, byddwch yn cael eich cosbi.

“Mae gen i fwy i’w ddysgu fel bocsiwr o hyd.  Dwi ddim yn meddwl bod yna focsiwr sy’n berffaith, mae wastad lle i wella.”