If the Olympic Games is the peak for any amateur boxer, winning a world title remains the goal for them turning professional. Not that long ago, it was considered an achievement if two British boxers qualified for the Olympics. Now there are so many, they are in a race to see who will win a world title first.
Joe Cordina’s adventure at the Rio Olympics latest just two bouts, as he failed to make the medal stages. But progress has been smooth so far as a professional, as the Welshman has won all his ten fights, winning the British and Commonwealth lightweight titles in the process.
On Saturday night at the Casino in Monte Carlo, Cordina faces Mario Enrique Tinoco, a Mexican who became known to British fans earlier this year by snapping the unbeaten record of Jordan Gill.
Cordina, 27, is already ranked No 11 by the IBF, TInoco is ranked No 12 by the WBA, so victory among the billionaires on the Cote d’Azur will see Cordina heading into 2020 with some serious world-title ambitions.
“He’s been in with some good fighters - Devin Haney being one of them, and he stopped Jordan Gill. But I’m a different fighter altogether. I’m not saying I’m miles above everyone he’s fought but I know I’m different class.
“I’ve been to an Olympic Games, I’ve fought all around the world, I’ve boxed in a lot of tournaments around the world with some of the fighters on this table. I’m looking to go out and put on a show and get the job done.”
Things were pretty tough for Cordina when he first came onto the Great Britain squad, as his rivals for a place on the team were Josh Taylor and Martin J Ward. After they turned professional, he battled Luke McCormack for the lightweight No 1 sport on the squad, which he secured after winning a European Championships gold medal in Bulgaria in 2015.
It was a full men’s team of ten that went to Rio for Great Britain. Two members of the team from Rio, Pat McCormack and Galal Yafai, are on target to compete at the Tokyo Games next summer, having impressed at the World Championships in Russia in September. Another member, Muhammad Ali, the flyweight, was banned for a doping offence, a suspension that has now expired, although he is yet to make his professional debut.
Lawrence Okolie seems to be leading the race to a world-title shot, as it seems likely that he will be facing Krzysztof Glowacki for the recently vacated WBO cruiserweight title early in the new year.
Joe Joyce, Joshua Buatsi and Josh Kelly have been making headlines, while Anthony Fowler could soon be attempting to avenge his only professional defeat against Scott Fitzgerald. Cordina and Qais Ashfaq, the other two members of the team, have been making quieter progress but are both unbeaten.
This will be Cordina’s first fight overseas since the Olympics, although he says he will not be fazed by boxing in front of what will be a small, select audience.
“As a professional I’ve boxed at the Principality Stadium twice, Wembley Stadium, Bramall Lane, the O2 Arena,” he said. “I’ve boxed all around the world in amateur tournaments where there might have only been 10 or 20 people there, I’ve boxed in little town halls that hardly hold any fans. Whether there’s an atmosphere here in the casino or not – it’s nothing new to me.”