The outstanding IBF super featherweight title fight between Joe Cordina and Anthony Cacace has been lost in the wake of Oleksandr Usyk’s history making decision victory over Tyson Fury.

It shouldn’t be. Cordina and Cacace put on a show in Saudi Arabia.

Cordina was dropped heavily in the third round, and hurt on numerous occasions, but his hand speed and refusal to back down ensured that he remained a clear and present danger throughout the firefight. Eventually, Cacace’s relentlessness and thudding, accurate power shots pinned Cordina on the ropes and referee, Bob Williams, stepped in to save him. 

Cordina and his team will carry out a full post mortem on the fight and his preparations for it but Cordina has already pinpointed the pivotal moment that the fight began to slip away.

A minute into the third round, the fighters fell into a clinch. At the exact moment Williams called for the fighters to break, the pair naturally disengaged and Cacace instinctively let got with a hard left hook. 

Cordina didn’t require any recovery time and seemed to have absorbed the shot well but once the action resumed, the 35-year-old Northern Irishman seized the initiative and never gave it back. 

“I want to say a big congratulations to Anthony Cacace. He got the job done. He’s the new world champion so hats off to him,” Cordina said on social media.

“I think the first and second rounds I was in control and felt comfortable and after them two rounds I thought it was going to be a comfortable win. After the third round and he clipped me after the referee said break and it just totally done me. It took a lot out of me and I just didn’t recover. Every shot after that, round by round, it was just taking little bits out of me.”

Rumours circulated all week that Cordina may have been having difficulty making the 130lbs weight limit.

The 32-year-old Olympian has enjoyed great success at super featherweight but he has slowly become a different type of fighter than the quicksilver, counter puncher who held the British and Commonwealth lightweight titles five years ago. 

He first won the IBF title with a highlight reel second round knockout of Kenichi Ogawa and then regained the belt which had been unfairly stripped from him by beating Shavkat Rakhimov in a gruelling fight of the year contender. He then endured twelve hard rounds with the unheralded Edward Vazquez.

The defeat to Cacace signals the end of his exciting stint at super featherweight and when he returns to the ring, he will do so at 135lbs where he will have to rely on his skills and smarts. 

“It’s quite a difficult one to take. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and it’s dented my pride but I’ve always said that to stop me you’re gonna have to stick me to the floor,” he said. “It is what it is. He got the job done and got the win. It just wasn’t my night, as simple as that. I can’t make any excuses. That was his night.

“I think it’s time for me to move up to 135lbs, try my hand at that and see how I get on.”

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