IT might look as if Joe Cordina has had a straight-forward career. He is nine fights into his professional career and has already won the British and Commonwealth titles, as well as a WBA International lightweight trinket.
He is proud of that accomplishment. “It’s something that many people don’t do. I’ve got three titles in nine fights and two of them are well known in British boxing. [The Commonwealth] that is a major belt in Britain and so is the British,” Cordina told Boxing News.
But the path to this point, defending his British title against Gavin Gwynne on the Vasyl Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell undercard at the O2 in London, has been a long one. “I remember Rob McCracken saying don’t turn pro until you’ve gone to an Olympics because it will be a long, hard road for you,” Cordina recalled. “It took me eight years to get to an Olympic Games and I fell short [at Rio 2016]. No fault of anyone apart from myself.”
That was a bitter disappointment. He had gone into the last Olympic Games as the European gold medallist, quite possibly the best lightweight in Europe, a strong continent. “I was one of the favourites to medal,” he remembered. “I went on a winning streak [but] it was a lot of pressure.”
“It was there, I could touch it, it was there,” he continued. “With how long it took me to get there I remember the pressure on me, thinking if I lose I’ve wasted eight years. I’ve wasted it and that’s the sort of pressure I put on myself. I’ve been at the highest level as an amateur. I’ve been at the pinnacle of sport, which is an Olympic Games. Even when I walked out in front of 80,000 at the Millennial [stadium] it was nothing compared to an Olympic Games. So anything I do now, it’s not a walk in the park but I’ve been there and done it. I’m ready for what’s in front of me.”
He is taking aim at the top of the sport. He will be an interested observer of Saturday’s main event. “I want to be a world champion and I need to get there,” Cordina said. “I’ve seen him [Lomachenko] at tournaments, I sat next to him at tournaments, I’ve been on the same shows as him and now I’m fighting on his undercard.”
Cordina has also sparred countless rounds with Campbell on the GB squad. He points out, “He’s technically great, he’s got all the attributes to beat Lomachenko but it’s just whether he can keep himself focused, switched on for the full 12 and take himself to the next level which is needed to beat Lomachenko.”