Joe Cordina kept his IBF title tonight in Monte Carlo, but he had to fight like hell to do it against a relentless challenger in Edward Vazquez. Cordina (17-0, 9 KO) was a heavy betting favorite, but had to sweat out a very close result and one draw card on his way to victory in a fantastic, back-and-forth action fight.
This wasn’t an off night for Cordina, who looked dialed in from the opening bell and won his share of the rounds more clearly. But Vazquez (15-2, 3 KO) has a history of grinding out rounds and claiming tight decisions, and it looked like he might just do it again in this one. Vazquez was in the ring to win, consistently working Cordina into the ropes, peppering him with punches from all angles, and finding good success with a counter right hand over the guard.
Vazquez had a very real case for the upset, using aggression and a smart guard that protected him from the worst of Cordina’s power to earn a 114-114 draw from one official judge and Bad Left Hook’s unofficial live score. But, the other two judges saw it 116-112 for Cordina, earning him a majority decision victory.
It was a brilliant fight that the gambling community didn’t anticipate, but that delivered excitement and drama in spades anyway. Things took an unpleasant turn after the decision was announced, as Vazquez felt hard done for the second time on a Matchroom show, having lost a very debatable decision to Ray Ford a year and a half ago. Both fighters took swipes at each other’s talent, and noted diplomat Eddie Hearn eventually addressed the microphone and said that he felt 116-112 was too wide, but still felt his man Cordina deserved the victory.
It’s a gutting result after a brilliant performance by Vazquez, who proved he belongs at this level in courageous fashion. Discussion of a possible rematch was conspicuously absent, as talk of Cordina’s future was focused instead on potential unification instead.
Adrian Curiel TKO-2 Sivenathi Nontshinga
Adrian Curiel landed a life-changing punch, blindsiding Sivenathi Nontshinga early in the 2nd round to score a huge upset victory and claim the IBF 108 pound title. Curiel (24-4-1, 5 KO) was aggressive from the start, but Nontshinga (12-1, 9 KO) looked brilliant on the move, countering well and landing the bigger punches when he planted and threw in the 1st.
But, in the 2nd, Curiel unloaded a monster overhand right that sent Nontshinga toppling onto the bottom rope. Referee Sparkle Lee didn’t like the look of Nontshinga, who landed with the back of his neck bouncing off the ring rope, and waved things off without a full count.
It’s a shocking result both ways. Curiel scored just his 5th knockout in 29 professional fights, a huge upset in the most unexpected fashion. Nontshinga, who fought and won an absolute war over Hector Flores in September 2022, was destroyed by a punch he didn’t see coming to lose for the first time as a professional. Big upset, big drama, and certainly worth 4 minutes of your time to rewatch if you missed it live.
Souleymane Cissokho UD-12 Isaias Lucero
Souleymane Cissokho notched another victory, but not one that will answer any of the questions and doubts surrounding his professional ceiling. Cissokho (17-0, 9 KO) was the bigger, faster, stronger man, landed the heaviest punches and did the most physical damage, but fought in a limited, back foot style that kept him from really separating himself from Isaias Lucero in a significant way.
A left hook from Lucero (16-2, 10 KO) rattled Cissokho in the first minute of the fight, but Lucero couldn’t capitalize. Cissokho turned the momentum around quickly, landing a big counter right hand that floored Lucero midway through the 2nd.
Cissokho opened cuts around both of Lucero’s eyes, and bloodied his nose, too. The left eye cut got bad enough to prompt a doctor evaluation in the 9th. But, the doctor elected not to stop the fight, and Cissokho likewise chose not to end things himself. He was content to do just slightly more than a seemingly overmatched foe, ultimately claiming a unanimous win on 118-109, 118-109, 117-110 scorecards that look much more impressive than the fight itself did.
Ramla Ali UD-10 Julissa Guzman
Ramla Ali avenged her knockout defeat to Julissa Guzman with a unanimous decision in the opener. The jab and right hand counter worked well for Ali (9-1, 2 KO) when she could use them. But, she struggled with pressure from the hard-hitting Guzman (13-3-2, 7 KO) in the first half of the fight.
Fresher legs late made the difference for Ali, allowing her to double up the jab and avoid return fire from a fatigued Guzman. Bad Left Hook’s unofficial scorecard had it 96-94 for Guzman based on her early success, but all three official judges had it 96-94 for Ali.