Joe Cordina Retains His Title in a Monte Carlo Squeaker


By David A. Avila

IBF super featherweight titlist Joe Cordina edged past Edward Vazquez in a nip-and-tuck battle that was decided by majority decision in Monaco on Saturday.

Both showed extreme polish.

Welsh fighter Cordina (17-0, 9 KOs) expected a tough battle against Texan Vazquez (15-2, 3 KOs) and that’s exactly what fans at Casino de Monte Carlo saw in the plush Monte Carlo resort.

Cordina’s height and speed was matched against Vazquez clever defense and counters.

Neither fighter seemed in danger of ever going down from a blow, but it was obvious that each had their expertise. Over 12 rounds it seemed that one fighter’s skills would prevail over the other. It just never seemed clear cut.

Cordina was making the first defense of the title he won by knockout against Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa back in June 2022, but injuries forced him to wait more than a year to defend the belt.

Vazquez last fought in July, and was confident his polished skills would prevail. Over the 12-round match he did connect often, but so did Cordina.

Neither fighter is known for knockout power and the lack of that resulted in judges looking for ways to score the fight. Should the challenger soundly demonstrate superiority over the champion, or would accuracy alone be the determining factor.

Overall the judges preferred Cordina’s claim be stripped away in dominating fashion. That did not happen but Vazquez did demonstrate his left could connect at a high rate.

Cordina scored heavily with body shots throughout the 12 rounds, and perhaps that was the determining factor as one judge scored it 114-114, and two others 116-112 for Cordina.

“I thought I did enough to win the fight,” Cordina said.

Vazquez was visibly upset at the decision and demonstrated it with vulgarity.

“He wasn’t able to do what he wanted to do,” Vazquez said. “Everybody knows I won.”

KO of Year Candidate

Mexico’s Adrian Curiel (24-4-1, 5 KOs) knocked out IBF light flyweight titlist Sivenathi Nontshinga (12-1, 9 KOs) to win the world title. Few expected the knockout.

Despite having only four knockout wins, Curiel walked down the South African fighter with a concentrated body attack in the first two rounds. And then, suddenly, an overhand right hammered Nontshinga to the floor against the ropes and the fight was immediately stopped without a count by referee Sparkle Lee at 1:09 in the second round.

“Always dream big,” said Curiel who hails from Mexico City. “Even a crazy guy like me can achieve his dream.”

The one-punch-knockout is definitely a candidate for KO of the Year.

Ramla Ali Wins

After a slow start Ramla Ali ramped up her jab and avenged a knockout loss with a convincing unanimous decision victory over Julissa Guzman.

After a five month wait Ali (9-1, 2 KOs) met Mexico’s hard-hitting Guzman (13-3-2, 7 KOs) again and this time proved the better fighter.

The last time they met Guzman surprised Ali with two knockdowns and a stoppage in the eighth round in New Orleans. Not this time.

After several back and forth rounds, Ali found her footing behind a steady left jab and some rocket right hands. But at first it was uncertain if any lessons had been learned from their first encounter/

Ali said today her period arrived and caused her to be slower and lethargic. But once she regained her energy and found her jab, things dramatically turned around.

“I called for this rematch and I really wanted to prove something that I’m the better boxer,” said Ali. “It was a very slow and shaky start. I knew I was winning from round four onward.”

After 10 two-minute rounds all three judges scored the fight the same 96-94 for Ali.