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Welsh Wonders - Joe Cordina and the five greatest Welsh fighters of all time

This Saturday, April 22nd, Cardiffs Joe Cordina will challenge Shavkat Rakhimov for the IBF super featherweight world title in front of his hometown fans at the Motorpoint Arena.


Cordina, who won a European Championship gold and Commonwealth games bronze medal as an amateur, as well as representing Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has won British and Commonwealth titles in his pro career, as well as claiming the IBF 130-pound title with a sensational knockout against Kenichi Ogawa last June.


Although his world title reign was short lived, having vacated the title shortly after winning it due to injury, if Cordina can regain the strap he never lost in the ring, and become a two-time world champion, he will join a long list of illustrious fighters to have come from the notorious boxing nation of Wales.


In this article, we will take a look at five of the greatest Welsh fighters of all time, and the men that Cordina will aim to take a huge leap towards standing alongside this weekend.


Jimmy Wilde (131-3-1, 98 KO's)


Wilde is widely considered by many to be the greatest fighter the United Kingdom has ever produced.


Although there is a lack of footage of Wilde during his peak years, his phenomenal record speaks for itself.


The former flyweight world champion compiled an incredible record of 131 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw, with 98 of his victories coming by knockout.


His potent punch power was summed up perfectly by way of his chilling moniker ‘Ghost with the Hammer in his Hand’. Often weighing less than 100lbs throughout his illustrious career, the power Wilde possessed was, and still is, virtually unheard of in the lower weight classes.


Wilde retired from the sport in 1923 following a loss to Filipino fighter Pancho Villa, before writing a couple of books, working as a boxing referee and ultimately passing away in 1969 at the age of 76.



Howard Winstone (61-6, 27 KO's)


Winstone, who hailed from the same Welsh town as Wilde in Merthyr Tydfil, faced adversity from early on in his career, when he lost the tips of three fingers on his right hand in a factory accident.


Despite this, Winstone had a fantastic career, winning the British and European featherweight titles, and the famous green and gold WBC featherweight world crown.


It is hard to believe that somebody with the immaculate technical ability of Winstone was only world champion for a brief period of time, however if he didn't have the misfortune of sharing the division with an all time great in Vicente Saldivar, he surely would have achieved so much more.


Winstone and the heavy handed Mexican Saldivar shared a ring on three separate, gruelling occasions, coming up short for world honours each time, however Saldivar would forever have his legendary name linked with Winstone, and even admitted Winstone probably deserved the nod in one of the contests.


Winstone finally had his moment in the sun in January of 1968, when he defeated Japanese fighter Mitsunori Seki at Londons Royal Albert Hall to win the vacated WBC title of his recently retired rival Saldivar.


Following a loss of his title in the first defence to Jose Legra six months later, Winstone retired from the sport aged 29.


Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KO's)

Holding the major honour of being the only British fighter to retire as an undefeated world champion, Calzaghe is widely regarded by many as the greatest super middleweight in the history of the division.


Debuting in 1993, Calzaghe burst into the publics consciousness four years later, when he dropped and defeated the legendary Chris Eubank to win the WBO super middleweight title.


He would embark on a historic reign, remaining a 168-pound world champion for a decade, defeating the likes of Robin Reid, Jeff Lacy and Mikel Kessler.


In 2008, Calzaghe moved north to the light heavyweight division, and his stint at 175lbs was a short but memorable one.


In two fights that year, Calzaghe travelled Stateside and defeated the legendary Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr., before retiring that same year as The Ring light heavyweight champion.



Percy Jones (50-3-3, 31 KO's)


Percy Jones made Welsh boxing history, when he became the first fighter ever from the country to win a world title.


Like a previous fighter in the article, Jimmy Wilde, there is no footage available of Jones during his career, however boxing fans throughout the generations have been left in no doubt of the accomplishments of the Porth native.


Jones defeated Bill Ladbury at Londons Covent Garden in 1914 to win the world flyweight title, and went unbeaten in the first 43 fights of his career.


He would lose his belt to Joe Symonds, before he went to fight in World War 1, and never boxed again.


Jones lost his leg in battle, and died of trench fever on Christmas day, 1922.


Freddie Welsh (74-5-7, 34 KO's)


You won't find much stronger dedication to the Welsh nationality than someone legally changing his name to it.


Born Frederick Thomas, he would change his name to symbolise his home nation.


Welsh won British, European and Commonwealth lightweight titles before defeating Willie Ritchie 1914 by an incredible 20-round decision to become the officially recognised world champion.


Welsh's standout victory came in 1916, when he defeated the legendary Benny Leonard.


Welsh is considered by many to be the greatest European lightweight in the history of the sport, and retired from boxing in 1922, and passing away prematurely in 1927.



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