Cacace upsets Cordina to claim IBF world title

Anthony Cacace celebrates as the referee stops his fight with Joe Cordina
Anthony Cacace claimed his first world title [Getty Images]

Super-featherweight Anthony Cacace pulled off a huge shock in Saudi Arabia by stopping Joe Cordina in the eighth round to win the IBF world title.

The Belfast underdog delivered a brutal performance, dropping the Welshman in the third as Cordina struggled.

Cacace, 35, continued to dominate the rounds with power punches before the referee halted the contest following a flurry of shots.

The 32-year-old Cordina suffered a first defeat in his 18th pro fight as Northern Irishman Cacace claimed a deserved maiden world title in his 23rd outing.

"I am in shock, no-one gave me a chance to do this,” said an emotional Cacace.

"Joe is a hell of a competitor, an Olympian and a two-time world champion. I have nothing but respect for him and I want to run it back."

A devastated Cordina left the ring without giving a post-fight interview.

On the undercard of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk's undisputed heavyweight showdown in Riyadh, 19-year-old British heavyweight hope Moses Itauma knocked out Ilja Mezencev for a stunning second-round success.

Fellow Briton Mark Chamberlain was also impressive as he stopped Joshua Wahab in the first round of their lightweight contest.

Classy Cacace announces himself on world stage

Anthony Cacace punches Joe Cordina
Cordina was undefeated in 17 fights before losing to Cacace [Getty Images]

In the build-up, Cordina – who made his entrance to the tune of 'Delilah' by Welshman Tom Jones - conceded Cacace was not the ideal opponent and had been targeting unification fights instead.

But his rival, who oozed confidence in fight week, was not in Saudi to make up the numbers.

The 20,000 capacity Kingdom Arena was around a third full and after a quiet opening round, the fight came alive in the third.

Moments after he was warned for landing a blow after the bell, Cacace rocked Cordina's head back with a legitimate left hook.

He then mixed his attack to head and body before dropping Cordina with a thunderous uppercut.

A dazed Cordina rose to his feet, but Cacace continued to land cleanly as the champion somehow survived the round.

Cordina responded well, landing a left hook of his own in the fourth, but he looked vulnerable against a more dangerous puncher.

Three eye-catching uppercuts in a row troubled Cordina in the sixth and, flatfooted, he was backed into the ropes in the seventh and the referee had seen enough in the following round after another barrage of punches.

Cordina's career has been plagued by injuries and he admitted to being far from his best in his last outing, a tough majority points win over Edward Vazquez in November.

But few, if any, pundits predicted such a dominant performance from Cacace, who announced himself on the world stage in the most emphatic fashion.

"From here on in I want to be in Saudi Arabia every time," he added.

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