Classy Joe Cordina eliminated from Olympic Games

Classy Joe Cordina eliminated from Olympic Games

Wales’ Joe Cordina has been unable to progress to the quarter-final stage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

The lightweight (60KG) aimed to add another chapter to his history bid but was out-pointed by Uzbekistan’s Hurshid Tojbaev over the three round distance.

A resident of St Mellons in East Cardiff, Cordina dropped a Majority Decision defeat with scorecards of 29-27, 29-27 and 28-28.

Cordina’s clever tactics and ability to keep long periods of rounds at long range have often allowed him to conserve energy and enabled him to be fresh for his next assignment in tournament boxing.

However, Tojbaev’s constant pressure disrupted Cordina’s rhythm. Cordina began brightly with straight shots from distance but on the whole, Tojbaev was more effective in closing the gap. The inside fighting occurred too often and Cordina was unable to re-establish his range.

When they were up fighting at short range, Tojbaev was more comfortable with the close combat exchanges and he often smothered Cordina’s response. The main disruption to Tojbaev’s momentum came when his pressure was too deliberate, resulting in a very obvious low blown. The referee docked a point but it wasn’t enough for Cordina to turn the tide.

Before leaving the ring, Cordina held the ropes open for Tojbaev to exit in a genuine and refreshing act of sportsmanship.

The Cardiff native would have fought Brazil’s Robson Conceicao, who handily overcame Tajikistan’s Anvar Yunusov with a first round stoppage. Conceicao is a familiar face and has twice beaten Cordina, most recently with a razor thin points decision. Naturally competitive, Cordina respectfully disagreed with the result at the quarter-final stage of October’s World Championships and went on record to say Conceicao was a target at the Olympics. It won’t be an easy task for anyone to beat Conceicao because the 26-year-old Brazilian will enjoy the home support at the 9,000 seater capacity Pavilion 6 at the Riocentro.

‘The Welsh Wizard’ was aiming to become just the third Welsh boxer to reach the podium at the Olympic Games, following in the footsteps of the Rhondda’s 1972 Bronze medalist Ralph Evans and St Mellons’ 2012 Silver medalist Fred Evans.

An Olympic medal would have secured Cordina a lucrative platform for his future. He would have surely cemented a guaranteed place on Team GB’s podium squad for the foreseeable future or could have commanded a significant signing on fee to join the professional code, where Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn has already shown a very keen interest. That’s the same promotional outfit who have a contract with IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby – a stablemate of Cordina’s at Tony Borg’s St Joseph’s Boxing Club in Newport. Hearn is likely to remain interested.

The 24-year-old has come of age in the last two years, adapting his counter-punching style to suit the demands of gruelling schedules of major tournaments. Cordina’s fleet footed switch-hitting ran out of gas by the semi-final stage of 2014’s Commonwealth Games where he collected bronze but learned lessons and demonstrated it with a gold medal at the 2015 European Championships, pacing himself for the full duration of fight fights in less than a fortnight. Cordina was just beaten by the more effective fighter on the day – the future remains bright for the popular Welshman and numerous options will remain available.

The pressure is likely to have increased in the Team GB camp following their boxers results so far. Yesterday was a difficult one for the squad, who suffered from a tough draw at an early stage of the competition. Welterweight Josh Kelly progressed but light-flyweight Galal Yafai, middleweight Anthony Fowler and light-heavyweight Lawrence Okolie were all eliminated.

IMAGE: AIBA

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