Dafydd Iwan to perform Yma O Hyd at Joe Cordina world title fight
Tonight will see Joe Cordina fight Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in Cardiff for the IBF super-featherweight crown.
And in his corner he will have legendary folk singer Dafydd Iwan to give the world title fight an extra Welsh flavour.
The boxer, who is a massive Cardiff City and Wales football fan, will enter the ring at the Cardiff International Arena with the iconic singer performing a stirring version of Yma O Hyd which is hoped will add that extra bit of motivation to help the boxer to become a two time world champion.
Cordina met Dafydd Iwan in Qatar at the World Cup in November where they were both following Wales and hatched the plan to have him perform at the boxer’s sold out world title bout.
“Joe Codina and his manager came onto me in Qatar and asked me if Dafydd wants to sing at the fight but me and Dafydd kept it quiet until the fight itself,” said Dave Driscoll from Arena Projects, the team behind the success of Yma O Hyd.
And it appears the veteran performer can’t wait to get into the ring and perform for Joe and the Welsh public.
“I’m looking forward to performing for Joe as he enters the ring in front of thousands of Welsh boxing, football and sports fans.
“I am honoured to do this for a humble young polite man and to perform in front of millions of fight fans worldwide that will be tuning in.”
The world title bout will cap off a successful week for Dafydd Iwan who picked up the Best Solo Artiste and Best Original Welsh Language Song for Yma O Hyd at the Welsh Folk Awards on Thursday.
The promoter of the fight Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn says Joe Cordina was rightfully stripped of his world title but has backed the Welshman to reclaim it on Saturday.
Cordina challenges Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov determined to regain the belt that he lost outside the ring due to injury.
Rakhimov was Cordina’s mandatory challenger after stepping aside to allow the 31-year-old to face Kenichi Ogawa in June, a contest that ended with a stunning second-round knockout victory for the former Olympian.
The International Boxing Federation originally granted a 90-day extension when Cordina injured his hand a week after facing Ogawa.
But he then broke his hand on his first day of training for the planned Rakhimov fight in November and underwent surgery.
Cordina felt hard done by when he was subsequently stripped of a title that eventually passed to Rakhimov with his ninth-round stoppage win over England’s Zelfa Barrett in Dubai.
But Matchroom promoter Hearn said: “I will be outspoken – controversial or not – and in this case the rules were the rules.
“Joe was allowed the exemption to fight Ogawa over Rakhimov under the ruling that the winner must fight Rakhimov within 90 days.
“We got one extension and then when he broke his hand, Joe had no chance. The IBF unfortunately made the right decision.
“It was unquestionably harsh on Joe, but we’ve got a great fight on Saturday and we’ll bring it back.
“Rakhimov is super tough and super durable, but I think Joe wins by stoppage. I look back to the Ogawa fight and the sharpness of Joe’s punches.
“I think he will be too sharp, but Rakhimov has got a great engine and is a beast.”
Both boxers were comfortably inside the 130lb super-featherweight limit at their Cardiff City Hall weigh-in on Friday.
Cordina weighed 129lbs 1oz with Rakhimov slightly heavier by six ounces.
Former world champion Joe Calzaghe was on stage to welcome both fighters to the scales.
Cordina and Rakhimov will be protecting unbeaten records in front of 5,000 fans at Cardiff International Arena.
Rakhimov has 17 victories and a draw on his 18-fight record, while Cordina, who boxed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and is a former European amateur champion, has won all his 15 professional contests.
Freddie Roach, Rakhimov’s acclaimed American trainer, said of Cordina: “We’ve watched lots and lots of tape of him.
“I’m not impressed with his speed, he’s slow to make his shots sometimes.
“Our guy is stronger and we will attack him and I think we win by KO.
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Go on joe boy!!!