Joe Cordina became Wales’ 13th world champion when he stunned champion Kenichi Ogawa with a second-round knockout to capture the IBF super featherweight title.
Cordina becomes world champion in just his 15th fight as a pro after producing the punch of his life.
Cordina’s huge right hook took the champion down, who couldn’t get up as Cordina won a world title in the most dramatic of circumstances.
“I’m at the top,” explained Cordina after his sensational victory.
A close favorite against a champion with real pedigree, the manner of Cordina’s win will send shockwaves through the super featherweight division as he fired off a thunderous shot to show he was undeniably comfortable at the world level.
Cordina, a distinguished amateur, found his options limited in recent years with a hand injury that required surgery and threatened his career.
Undefeated in 14 professional fights since his debut in 2017, Cordina returned to boxing in his hometown for the first time in four years as he struggled to join the illustrious roster of a dozen world champions in Wales.
In front of half of that list – Joe Calzaghe, Enzo Maccarinelli, Robbie Regan, Lee Selby, Gavin Rees and Barry Jones were all ringside – Cordina put on a performance to make any Welsh fight fan proud.
Home advantage crucial
Cordina, who grew up in Cardiff’s St Mellons suburb and supports Cardiff City, was enjoying only her fourth home field advantage in the professional ranks after she last boxed in the Welsh capital at the Ice Arena four years ago.
This was a larger venture overall, with a capacity of 4,000 at Motorpoint Arena, with Cordina personally selling over 1,000 tickets as he attempted to pursue his career dream in front of friends, family and well-wishers.
Wales have not crowned a new world champion since Lee Selby in 2015 and Cordina faced a difficult proposition to succeed where Jay Harris, Liam Williams and Andrew Selby have all fallen short in recent years.
Ogawa was defeated only once and represented Cordina’s toughest test as a pro, despite only boxing for the third time outside of Tokyo in his 29th professional competition.
The atmosphere in Cardiff was sizzling and Cordina looked like a star when he came to ringside to a full crowd serenading Delilah from Tom Jones.
Ogawa promised to come forward and be aggressive in the early rallies, but it was Cordina who did the damage with an incredible shot that sent Ogawa crashing to the canvas.
Ogawa tried in vain to rise, and Cordina’s victory sparked wild celebrations before a raucous Welsh crowd.
Injuries are overcome as Cordina fulfills her destiny
Cordina said ahead of the fight that the chance to fight for a world title in his hometown is “all he could ask for” as he strove to join the pantheon of greats.
His road to the top could have been smoother since his pro debut as a severely broken hand threatened his career and, like Calzaghe, left him unable to train.
After a completely fallow 2020 following surgery to transplant bones from Cordina’s hip into his hand, Cordina impressed in three comeback fights in 2021, posting wins over Faroukh Kourbanov, Joshuah Hernandez and Miko Khatchatryan.
However, Ogawa was a tougher test on paper, only to be knocked out by Cordina’s thunderous right hook.
“It’s a lifetime of work put into five and a half minutes of work. I’m just so grateful,” Cordina said.
“I’ve thrown some big punches at that camp, I’ve dated and fought with people like Conor Benn and he’s one of the most explosive boxers. We worked hard in the gym.
“We’ve been working camp on this punch and it’s an amazing feeling when you put hours and hours into it and it’s going off in the fight and the lights are out.”
Cordina could make his first title defense against Zelfa Barrett, who won in the main assist bout of the bill when he beat Faroukh Kourbanov by a wide and unanimous point decision to take the European super featherweight title.
BBC Sport Wales understand Cordina could be used for a first defense in Cardiff in September.