Joe Cordina has been stripped of his IBF junior lightweight title after pulling out of a Nov. 5 mandatory title defense against Shavkat Rakhimov.
Cordina, who just won the title with a crushing second round knockout of Kenichi Ogawa on June 4, recently underwent hand surgery. He shared a photo of his post-surgery hand and some thoughts on Instagram.
“Absolutely gutted,” he wrote. “My (Nov. 5) fight in Abu Dhabi is off due to a hand injury which needed surgery, and to top it off, I’ve been informed that I’ve been stripped of the title.
“I worked my whole life and sacrificed everything to become a world champion, and I ain’t even had the chance to defend it. It feels like I’ve been robbed! Breaks my heart, honestly.”
The 30-year-old Cordina (15-0, 9 KO) went in as an underdog at home in Cardiff against Ogawa, but then made all the past hype of a career that had seemingly stagnated a bit pay off with a right hand to the chin in round two.
The fight with Rakhimov (16-0-1, 13 KO) was set for the Dmitry Bivol vs Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez undercard, and apart from everything else, that card — which was really good on paper — now takes a hit.
The undercard will still feature Chantelle Cameron vs Jessica McCaskill for the undisputed championship at 140 lbs, with Cameron defending her WBC and IBF belts, and the vacant WBA and WBO titles also on the line.
The news also means there is now a third vacant title at 130, following Shakur Stevenson being stripped of the WBC and WBO belts in September after not making weight against Robson Conceicao. The WBC have already ordered Rey Vargas vs O’Shaquie Foster for their vacancy.