Joe Cordina qualifies for 2016 Rio Olympics

Joe Cordina qualifies for 2016 Rio Olympics

By Dewi Powell: Joe ‘Welsh Wizard’ Cordina has qualified for August’s Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

The lightweight (60KG) from Cardiff was victorious in the semi-finals of the Samsun tournament in Turkey, out-pointing David Oliver Joyce.

It was a case of third time lucky for the 24-year-old, who avenged two previous defeats to the Irishman. The judges awarded Cordina a unanimous decision.

The pair fought at the same Olympic qualifying event in 2012 and Joyce stopped Cordina in the third round of a physically challenging fight. Six months later, they fought in the final of the Tammer Tournament and though improved, Cordina again lost on points courtesy of an 11-15 score.

It was different this time, though their styles again made for an intriguing contest. From the off, Joyce applied pressure and Cordina attempted to meet him with straight shots, using his height and reach advantages. It was enough to Cordina to pip the opener but the following stanza was tougher.

Cordina appeared to drop Joyce at the start of the second round but the referee ruled it a slip and Joyce stormed back, catching Cordina on the ropes. Joyce has a history of coming from behind to win and Cordina was mindful of it, managing to re-establish the distance in the final round to stay a step ahead.

Cordina was the bookmakers’ tip and Paddy Power priced the switch-hitter as a 4/9 favourite, while odds for Joyce were wider at a 13/8 price. He will now compete in the final of the Samsun tournament against France’s Sofiane Oumiha on Sunday.

On the other hand, Joyce will face the loser of the other semi-final in a third place box-off and the winner will progress to the Olympics. Joyce’s cousin John Joe Joyce competed at the 2008 Olympics and another cousin, light-heavyweight Joe Ward, is already through to 2016’s event.

The Welshman entered the bout having beaten Hungary’s Miklos Varga on points and he then received a bye against Italy’s Domenico Valentino – the former world champion who Cordina stopped in a round eight months ago.

It has capped off a remarkable run of form for Cordina, who won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2014 and a European Championships gold medal in 2015.

Cordina’s qualification for the Olympics means that he is the third boxer from St Joseph’s Boxing Club in Newport to compete at the highest level of amateur boxing in the space of four years. St Mellons’ welterweight Fred ‘Boy’ Evans and Barry Town’s flyweight Andrew Selby represented the gym at the 2012 Olympics in London.

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