Joe Cordina will challenge Kenichi Ogawa for the IBF Super-Featherweight World Title at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff on Saturday June 4, live worldwide on DAZN (excluding Australia and New Zealand).
Welshman Cordina (14-0, 8 KOs), a former British and Commonwealth Champion at Lightweight, dropped down in weight to Super-Featherweight after handing his compatriot Gavin Gwynne a first loss at The O2 in London in August 2019.
‘The Welsh Wizard’ captured the WBA Continental 130lbs Title against Mexico’s Mario Enrique Tinoco at the Casino de Monte-Carlo in November 2019 before suffering a hand injury that kept him out of the ring throughout 2020.
Determined to make up for lost time, the now 30-year-old stacked up three wins in an active 2021 – including a stunning first round knockout victory over Chicago’s Joshua Hernandez at Matchroom Fight Camp in the summer – and now sits at No.3 at Super-Featherweight with the IBF.
Japan’s Ogawa (26-1-1, 18 KOs) claimed the vacant red and gold 130lbs World Title by overpowering the dangerous Azinga Fuzile in a wide points decision at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, New York, last November, dropping the South African in rounds five and twelve.
The 34-year-old from Tokyo is on the hunt for unification fights and represents a sizable step up in class for Rio 2016 Olympian Cordina, having only tasted defeat once in 29 professional bouts – a stoppage loss at the hands of Yuki Miyoshia at Korakuen Hall back in August 2012.
On the undercard, Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (27-1, 16 KOs), who is ranked at No.2 with the IBF, looks to build on his impressive win over Australia’s Bruno Tarimo on the Parker vs. Chisora 2 undercard when he challenges European Super-Featherweight Champion Faroukh Kourbanov (19-3, 3 KOs) – a former opponent of Cordina.
“I’ve dedicated my entire life to boxing and to putting myself in this position,” said Cordina. “Now it all comes down to this opportunity, my World Title shot.
“It’s a lifelong dream of mine to become a World Champion and a stepping stone to securing my family’s future and making all of the times missed with them worth it.
“I’ll be taking this opportunity with both hands; I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to win and be crowned the new IBF World Super-Featherweight Champion. Be ready to see the best Joe Cordina come fight night as I put my name at the top of the division.”
“First of all, I want to thank Mr. Eddie Hearn for this opportunity,” said Ogawa. “Hello to Team Cordina. I am disappointed that I could not attend the launch press conference but I’m looking forward to fighting in Cardiff. Let’s be in our best shape for this fight. But I will be the one to win this fight. See you in a month.”
“This is it for Joe Cordina – the opportunity of a lifetime and his moment of truth,” said Matchroom Sport Chairman Eddie Hearn. “Joe has an opportunity to become World Champion in his home city and put himself up there with the greats. Ogawa is huge step up, big, strong and proven as an elite fighter. Victory for both men sets up huge unification opportunities – we expect an incredible atmosphere in Cardiff and a great show on June 4.”
“What a brilliant fight this will be,” said Ed Breeze, EVP Rights at DAZN. “Joe Cordina has been rightly tipped by many as a future World Champion and this will be his time to prove it against a very game opponent in Kenichi Ogawa. We are set for a classic in front of a raucous crowd, and you can see it live and worldwide on DAZN on June 4.”
Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:
“Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Cardiff City Hall on Jubilee weekend ahead of a huge night of World Championship boxing at the Cardiff Arena. Joe Cordina in his hometown gets a chance to become the 13th World Champion from Wales, live on DAZN, against the outstanding World Champion Kenichi Ogawa from Japan. We’ve got European Title action and some of the world’s leading prospects on the card here, local talent as well. There’s so much to discuss with you ahead of a great return to this city. It’s been a while since we’ve been in this room and this great city and I’m excited. It’s been a long time since Cardiff have had the opportunity to see what could be a huge star emerge as Joe Cordina gets his golden opportunity live on DAZN around the world.”
“I’m really excited to be here, massive shout out to Eddie and Matchroom, and obviously Lee Eaton for getting me on the card. It’s in my home city so it’s like a dream debut. I’m happy to be here and obviously I’m getting ready to perform. I’m ready and I can’t wait to put on a show. Shout out to my trainer Tony Borg. It’s been a journey but I’m ready to showcase my skills. Big up Joey as well, he’s going to perform amazingly on Saturday night.”
“Yeah definitely. Same thing. Big thanks to Eddie and Matchroom for giving me this opportunity. Also big thanks to my coach Gary Lockett for giving me this opportunity. It’s a big show in Cardiff. I’m from Swansea but it’s only down the road. I’m going to bring an army of Swansea fans and I can’t wait for it.
It’s a massive opportunity for myself in only my fourth professional fight. I’d like to thank yourself, Eddie, and Matchroom Boxing, and my coach Gary Lockett for always pushing for these opportunities. I’d like to thank the main man himself, Joe Cordina, for bringing big time boxing back to Cardiff. I’ve got 200 people coming down from the Valleys on Saturday so it’s going to be loud. Massive thanks to all of them – I’m looking forward to it.”
“I just want to say a big thank you to you Eddie for getting me this opportunity. It’s nice to get the opportunity to box locally in front of an army of Welsh fans. I’m excited to put on a show in front of everyone coming. I could say the same for all of the other boys. It’s a massive opportunity for all of us.”
“Thank you Eddie, Matchroom and DAZN for getting me on another terrific card. It’s a step up to 8 rounds. I’m prepared for it. I’m ready. I prepare for every fight like it’s a World Title fight just to make sure that I’m the best Calum French that gets in the ring on the night. I do it to get myself in the right habits and rituals, so when it’s my time to headline a show like Joe is doing, up in my hometown in Newcastle I’m going to be in the right frame of mind for it. I boxed at 135 in the amateurs and then because that weight was taken away out of the Olympic system, I was forced to move up to 140. Coming into the pros we’re going to bring it back down to 135 and campaign there, and shoot for titles later this year and early next year.”
“It’s been a while. I’ve been itching to get back in there. I want to get a win and crack on with my career. I’ll get the win on Saturday night and I can move on, get back up to European level and move on from there. You’ve got to win them all no matter who it is. If he’s from Liverpool, Argentina or Mexico, I’ve just got to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a domestic dust up or if it’s an international fight. You’ve just got to get the W and crack on.”
“I was ready to box on the 11th of June anyway, so it was perfect timing really. It’s all fallen into place perfectly. Thanks to Eddie and Matchroom for the opportunity and my coaches who have kept me on my toes all year. I’m going to put on a show on Saturday. I can just go out and do my best and upset the applecart. I’m not here to turn myself over, I’m here to win. We’ll see on Saturday Eddie, thanks for asking me.”
“The plan was always to have a really active start and Matchroom has definitely delivered. I’m very grateful for that. I’m excited for the step up. I’m not afraid of a challenge. I hope she brings a challenge for me. I want to have a real fight and I want to be in a real fight. Like I’ve said from the start, I think that’s when you’re going to see the best version of me. I feel like we’re making great improvements every time we fight. Having these back to back fights and having that time with Eddie in the gym has been perfect for me. We’re seeing those improvements and adapting to the pro style. I think we’re going to see the same again in this fight.”
“Well firstly thank you very much for the invite to be here Eddie. It’s a privilege to be here and I’m very happy to take on Skye in this bout. As you know I’ve had quite a lengthy career, both as an amateur and a pro and I’m hoping that this weekend is going to be an opportunity to show that I’ve got it.”
“Like you say, we’ve had a three-and-a-half-week camp for this fight but that’s just what happens when you stay in the gym. You live the life and you’re able to get straight back out. That’s what I want. I want to stay active. We were looking towards the British but thank you for the opportunity and for getting me on the card. I’m on the big stage again and it’s another chance to show what Dalton Smith is about. When a fighter is active, that’s when they’re learning and improving. That’s what it’s all about. I’m moving forwards now on the big stage. It’s one thing for me being at a press conference and having Joe Calzaghe here. Growing up with my dad coaching me and seeing what Joe and his dad Enzo achieved in the sport, I feel privileged for him to be at one of my press conferences. I want to grab a picture with him because it’s been 20 years I’ve been waiting for that! I feel privileged to be on the show, supporting Joe as he becomes the next Welsh World Champion. It’s a big opportunity and you’re going to be seeing a lot more from me.”
“Thank you very much for the invitation. I know I’m up against a very formidable opponent, he’s a very tough lad and it’s well known. I’m full of energy myself for this fight and I’ll be putting on a good spectacle for all.”
“I’m out to put on a performance. Respect to Faroukh as the champion. I’ve watched him but I just believe in my abilities and anything he can do I can do better than him. I’ve got more of a purpose on Saturday night. Listen, two men could be in against me on that day, I don’t care who’s in with me – I’m going to put on a performance. Of course I want Joe to win in the main event, for his family, and it’ll work out for a better fight for us. We cans et our families up from there hopefully if he gives me the opportunity. I want him to win but my main focus is Faroukh. Once I’ve got past him I’ll be watching the main event ringside.”
“Thank you very much for the invitation. I’m delighted to be here as the defending European Champion and I’m sure when Saturday comes I’ll be able to take that step forward towards the World Title. I’m came out of that fight 2nd with Joe Cordina two years ago but it gave me a lot of opportunities to improve my game. He’s got a shot at the World Title and all the best to him.”
“First of all, I want to say thank you to Eddie, Matchroom and DAZN. Also, thanks to Ogawa for accepting this fight and coming to Cardiff. I put pressure on myself, I don’t see it that way, other people might see it that way. I believe in my ability. I know I’m at world level. I’ve said it time and time again; I’m not bothered about any other title in between a World Title. All I want is a World Title. If I lose, which I don’t plan on doing, I’m 30 now and it’s a long way to build back up. For me this is my opportunity and I’m going to grab it with both hands. I can touch it. I’ve just got to grab it off him. This is my time and it’s an opportunity for me to showcase my talent in front of the world and announce myself on the big stage. On paper he’s a level above. When you look at Ogawa’s record, don’t get me wrong he’s had a lot of knockouts, you look at those early fights, I think even leading up to his 18th fight he was fighting people that I was fighting in my third or fourth fights – similar records. On paper he’s a level above but I’m going to have to step up and show I’m at that world level. I’ve sparred plenty of World Champions and I’ve been in with some tough guys – we’ve got Conor Benn at the back who’s arguably one of the most explosive punchers and fighters on the planet right now. I’ve done numerous rounds with him, and he can tell you I’m technically good and I’m tough. I’ve also got a great boxing brain and that’s one of my strengths. I can think my way around the right and get that win on Saturday night.”
“First I’d like to thank Matchroom, DAZN and Teiken Promotions, and everyone who made this fight possible. He says he’s going to knock me out in our fight, we will find out on Saturday. It will be interesting to see what happens. I plan to be very aggressive in the ring and have an exciting match but at the end of the day it’s up to Joe and how he wants to come out.”