Welsh star Joe Cordina came close to stealing the show at the final Fight Camp of the year when he took little more than 50 seconds to dismantle Chicago’s Joshuah Hernandez.
The 29-year-old super-featherweight stormed to a rapid-fire win and is now 13-0 and on the cusp of a world title shot.
“For me, [it was] perfect,” explained the former Team GB Olympian of his Saturday night. “Everything me and Tony worked on in camp, and before we went out in the changing rooms, went perfectly, to a tee, and I couldn’t ask for a better performance.”
Chicago’s Hernandez was advertised as tough and that was how he came to be in the opposite corner. Ahead of an assault on the world rankings, Cordina wanted experience and rounds in the bank. Instead, he had 53 blistering seconds of work.
“We had a choice of opponents that got sent to us and we picked Hernandez for the rounds because he’s tough,” Joe added. “He’d had 10 wins with eight knockouts, he can punch with both hands so he does pose a threat. He had one loss he reversed straight after early on in his career [against Gavino Guaman]. Then he had a bad decision against someone who was 17-0 [Giovanni Mioletti] on a Matchroom bill and then he lost a close fight against Chris Colbert [over eight rounds], so we picked him knowing he was tough and that I’d get the rounds in. But, I think where I needed to prove a point this time around I did it on Saturday.”
Cordina didn’t see any action at all in 2020 as problems with his right hand came to a head.
He’d suffered with pain in it for several fights but then took the decision to have surgery.
“It’d been playing me up since 2018 and I’ve said it before I boxed three fights – against Andy Townend, Gavin Gwynne and Tinoco – with a damaged hand. I was always reluctant to throw it, I was throwing it mostly to keep them at bay and now I can throw it, let it go and not worry about it. As you see, I threw it on Saturday and knocked him out in 50-odd seconds, so I think it’s behind me now so hopefully we can push on and keep getting these knockouts.”
Bone was grafted from his hip and fused in his hand, joined by titanium staples. His hand was in a cast and split for three months, rehab followed and there was a further five months when he couldn’t punch. Then came light punching work with Joe having to crawl before he could run again but since his return – and he boxed 10 rounds in March – there have been no further problems, not even a twinge where the pain had been.
And not only is he flying high but he’s part of the bustling Tony Sims camp where a long list of fighters are in title contention, be it domestically or on the world scene.
“Success breeds success,” he said, quoting a worn but true cliché. “Obviously you’ve got the likes of John Ryder who should be a world champion now, he set the bar in the gym, then you had Martin Ward fighting for an eliminator for a world title, then you’ve got the likes of Conor Benn, Felix Cash, Ted Cheeseman and [Craig] Spider Richards who just fought for a world title. We are all involved in big domestic titles and some of us are on the verge of winning world titles so success breeds success, iron sharpens iron and we are all in the gym pushing each other and progressing so there’s a good atmosphere, a good vibe, a good laugh and we push each other on.”
Is it all business, or is it all fun?
“It’s a good blend,” he continued. “In the mornings we all run together, so it’s always competitive and we have a laugh and then we’re all staggered in the gym so we all have our set times. When someone’s finishing and someone’s starting, yeah we have a little laugh but then once they leave the gym you’re in there on your own and it’s down to hard work. It’s a bit of everything. Tony has a laugh with us as well so there’s a good vibe and it’s good to be around these boys.”
The build-up for Hernandez, however, had not been optimal. Cordina, a father to Sofia-Grace, 6, and Valentina-Rose, 4, became a dad again just a week before his Fight Camp appearance.
“It’s been flat out,” Joe admitted. “It’s been stressful at times. I was home for the week of the birth and then I got added to that card so I was home doing some night feeds and helping out with the missus and then I found out I was fighting so it was a case of trying to switch on and getting myself back to fight mode. That’s out the way now and after these two weeks I will concentrate on getting back to camp and getting back in to fight mode again.”
He wants to get out quickly. Promoter Eddie Hearn said he wants Saturday’s bill-topper Joshua Buatsi back out before the end of the year before a world title fight in 2022 and Cordina, a Buatsi teammate from Rio 2016, is on a similar schedule and making up for time out with the hand injury.
“My fight only lasted about 50 seconds so in a way I felt like I’d been cheated, I didn’t have a hard fight like I expected so they want me to get out there ASAP so it’s looking like October, only about six weeks away,” Cordina said. “I’m home spending time with my kids and my newborn, Joseph, and probably in two weeks I’ll head back to Essex [with Tony Sims] and try to improve on my performance and try to push on to get closer to a world title. Eddie dangled the carat of an eliminator and that’s what me and Tony are planning on, get this fight out the way and then push on for an eliminator.”