By Paul Mason
After the drama of the Sky Sports Box Office show at the O2 Arena last Saturday, Matchroom return one week later with the latest instalment of the JDNXTGEN series, designed to push their prospects to main event status, and pick up domestic Titles in the process. This Saturday night sees the action come from the Ice Arena, Cardiff, where local lad and fast-rising star, Joe Cordina challenges the tried and tested warhorse, Sean “Masher” Dodd for the vacant Commonwealth Lightweight Title. This is the very same Title vacated by Tommy Coyle following his stoppage win over Dodd back in April at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Cordina will start red-hot favourite, but does Dodd have one last superhero effort in him to lift the Commonwealth crown for a second time? Here, I preview Saturday’s entertainment in the Principality.
Joe Cordina (7-0, KO6) v Sean “Masher” Dodd (15-3-1, KO3) 12 Rounds For The Commonwealth Lightweight Title
After just eight fights, and with less than thirteen months professional ring experience under his belt, Cardiff’s excellent amateur, Joe Cordina, goes for his first domestic professional Title at the Ice Arena in his hometown. Standing in his way is the epitome of the “if at first, you don’t succeed” mantra. Sean “Masher” Dodd took a late-notice opportunity to face Gary Buckland in September 2015 and ended up winning on points to catapult himself into the domestic picture from nowhere. He has since held the Commonwealth and WBC International straps, and also twice challenged for the British Title. It all seems set for the Welshman to look good and pick up a Title, but Dodd will have other ideas.
Cordina is another boxer to come from the Team GB production line. A Commonwealth Bronze medallist in 2014 and a European Amateur Champion in 2015, Cordina also represented Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He was eliminated at the round of 16 stage but impressed in the main. Rather than remain amateur, Cordina turned professional with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, making his debut in April last year, stopping Jose Aguilar in the final round of a four rounder. He followed this up with appearances on some huge 2017 bills. First came the Joshua v Klitschko undercard at Wembley Stadium. Cordina despatched Sergej Vib in the first round. He then appeared on the Kell Brook v Errol Spence Junior card at Bramhall Lane, Sheffield in May 2017. Josh Thorne was the victim, again in the opening round. Cordina made it a hat-trick of first-round wins by stopping the experienced Jamie Speight at the York Hall in September of the same year. On another big Joshua bill a month later, this time the Carlos Takam bill, Cordina went the distance for the first and only time thus far in his career. Lesther Cantillano took Joe the full four rounds at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, but Cordina easily triumphed on the referee’s scorecard.
Cordina closed out 2017 with a fourth-round stoppage of Lee Connolly, again at the York Hall. 2018 has seen one fight for Cordina so far, again on a massive bill. On the Joshua v Parker Card in Cardiff in March, Cordina was impressive in stopping Hakim Ben Ali in three rounds to pick up the WBA International Lightweight Title. Cordina arrives in Cardiff making the step up to Domestic level.
In Sean “Masher” Dodd, Cordina looks to have the perfect, come-forward opponent, to put on a showcase. Make no mistake though, Dodd will come to win.
Dodd has been a professional since March 2012, marking the occasion with a last round stoppage win over Giuseppe Daprato in a four-rounder in Chester. The ever-dependable Kristian Laight was then outpointed two months later over four at Aintree Equestrian Centre, Liverpool. “Masher” then racked up a further six straight wins, before challenging Andy Townend for the Central Area Super Featherweight Title in May 2014 at the Doncaster Dome. It was to be the first defeat for Dodd, Townend dropping and stopping him in seven rounds.
After a routine comeback win, Dodd received a late notice opportunity like on Sky, taking on the dangerous and talented Welshman, Gary Buckland, at home at the Olympia, Liverpool. Dodd boxed superbly, deservedly taking a two-point win on the referee’s card. This lead to a crack at Scott Cardle’s British Lightweight Title in November 2015 where Dodd again defied expectation. In a close fight, with both men cut, Cardle kept his Title via split decision, in a fight that cried rematch.
The rematch was immediately ordered, and served five months later, again at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. This time the two couldn’t’ be split. One judge gave the fight to Cardle by two points, overruled by the other two judges, who scored the contest a 114-114 draw. The two Cardle fights raised Dodd’s stock, and he was rewarded with a slot on the big Tony Bellew v Ilunga Makabu card at Everton’s Goodison Park a month after the Cardle rematch. He widely outpointed Pasquale Di Silvio over ten rounds to pick up the WBC International Lightweight Title. After a first defence, Dodd was matched with Lee Appleyard for the Commonwealth Title back at the Echo Arena. Dodd boxed well again to handily outpoint his opponent and pick up the Belt.
“Masher” then marked time, appearing in a tune-up at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park, before making his first defence of the Commonwealth Title against former Great Britain captain, Thomas Stalker in a Merseyside derby. Few expected Dodd to run away with the fight, but he did just that, taking a 118-111 win on all three cards to retain his belt.
In Dodd’s last outing, he met Hull’s Tommy Coyle, in what was a real display of sportsmanship. The gentlemanly way the two men conducted themselves at the press conferences and the weigh-in, as well as after the fight was impressive. Coyle would ultimately relieve “Masher” of his Title though, dropping Dodd in the fourth before overwhelming him to stop him in six rounds.
Dodd will come to Cardiff to prove that the fire still burns within him, but this is a tough ask. I can see body shots playing a part in this, and Cordina landing some meaty blows to his Liverpudlian opponent. My prediction is a Cordina win, stopping the gutsy Dodd by around halfway.
The supporting cast to the show is the usual JDNXGEN format. Prospects come up against experienced campaigners. Big things are expected for Jordan “The Thrill” Gill (20-0, KO4) and he takes on David Berna (16-4, KO15) over eight rounds. Berna is best known for being stopped by Michael Conlan on St Patrick’s day in New York last year.
Gamal Yafai (14-1, KO7) gets a run out against an opponent to be decided as he shakes off his recent defeat to Gavin McDonnell, while Kazakh Amateur starlet Daniyar Yeleussinov (2-0, KO1) makes his third paid appearance, taking on Gabor Gorbics (24-11, KO14)over eight. The aforementioned Scott Cardle (22-2-1, KO7) returns under a new training team against the experienced Michael Mooney (8-51-1, KO3) in a six round contest.
Natasha Jonas (6-0, KO5) goes for the WBA International Super Featherweight Title against a former Katie Taylor victim in Vivienne Obenauf (12-4, KO6) over ten, two-minute rounds.
Kody Davies (5-0, KO2) continues his education in a four rounder, and Team MTK’s hot prospect Sean McGoldrick (6-0, KO2) is also in action over eight.