Joe Cordina’s trainer believed he was finished at super featherweight before the Welshman agreed to fight Anthony Cacace.

Cordina, 32, was unexpectedly stopped by Ireland’s Cacace in eight rounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May, and therefore lost his IBF super-featherweight title.

That he had previously been the British and Commonwealth lightweight champion had contributed to a growing awareness that he was struggling at 130lbs, and since the first defeat of his career – in which for the first time he consistently looked vulnerable – he has spoken on social media of the need for him to return to 135lbs. 

His trainer Tony Sims – who once oversaw the retired John Ryder’s successful move from middleweight to super middleweight at a time when the wisdom in him doing so was questioned – had expected him to do so even if he had beaten Cacace, and has revealed that he believed that Cordina had fought at super featherweight for the final time when in November he earned a majority decision over Edward Vazquez.

“In the fight in Monaco you could see that he was struggling to make that weight, and after that he was talking about going up,” Sims said. “Financially, it was a lot of money, in the fight [against Cacace] for Joe, and he had to take that fight, but we all know that Joe’s a better fighter than he looked in that fight. He didn’t look right at all. The next move, or the next step to do, is for Joe to move up to 135.

“I knew that he probably weren’t gonna be the fighter that had the fight with [Shavkatdzhon] Rakhimov the year before, because he’s getting on for 33 – to try and do a weight he can’t really do is always hard. But I still thought that he’d have enough in him to win. I had a win over Anthony Cacace with Martin J Ward a few years ago [in 2017], and I always felt that Joe was always a more complete fighter than Martin, so I felt he’d have enough in the tank to beat Anthony. But I don’t want to take that win away from him, because I’ve had it a few times myself. It’s always hard to keep it – that was his fourth world-title fight in a row. Probably everybody knows he’s struggling at the weight; it’s time for him to move up and challenge himself at lightweight.

“I thought the Monaco fight was going to be his last at super featherweight, because he didn’t look great in that fight either, and that was down to the weight. We made a decision to move up after that fight, really, but financially, this fight came along and it’s just something he couldn’t turn down. He had to take it, but it weren’t a great situation for him. If he’d have won [he’d have stepped up anyway].

“It was pretty well-known that Joe’s been struggling to make the weight for a long time.

“But I don’t wanna take away the performance of Anthony Cacace – if Anthony was my fighter I’d say he put on the performance of a lifetime.”

Cordina went on holiday in the aftermath of his first defeat. The week before his fight with the 35-year-old Cacace, his compatriot Lauren Price had won the WBA welterweight title from Jessica McCaskill. 

“Hopefully he’ll fight again in the autumn, and we’ll get a decent opponent for him to come back at lightweight,” Sims continued. “If he feels good and looks good at lightweight we’ll push on for world honours. 

“It’s a fantastic weight, and there’s money to be earned at that weight as well. He needs to move up in weight, have a fight there, and we’ll see how he feels and looks up at lightweight. If he looks good and he feels good, we’ll go from there to getting him into world contention again.”

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