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Not even a broken rib could stop Anthony Cacace’s world title bid

Anthony Cacace joined the pantheon from Belfast, the great fight city, as he grabbed his golden chance with both hands on Saturday night.

At the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Cacace – despite going into the bout with a broken rib – shocked Joe Cordina to take the Welshman’s IBF super-featherweight title.

When Cacace landed a sweet right hand on Cordina 39 seconds into the eighth round, ref’ Bob Williams stepped in to call a halt and confirm the Andersonstown Apache as Ireland’s first super-featherweight world champion.

“I am in shock,” Cacace, now 22-1 8KOs said. “Nobody gave me a chance to do this. I came over here confident. A wee lad from Andytown coming the whole way over to Saudi Arabia and smashing up the champion!”

Welshman Cordina, whose record falls to 17-1 after a first pro loss, was down in the third after his equilibrium was sent into a tailspin by a formidable right hook.

Cacace, who remarked beforehand how he had waited 12 years for this chance and platform, was the aggressor and the 35-year-old West Belfast man hit new heights on the big stage.

Although there was no rematch clause included, Cacace appears to have little trouble in a rematch.

He said: “Joe is a hell of a competitor, he’s an Olympian and a world champion. I give him his dues, but tonight I was hurting him with every single shot.

“I have nothing but respect for him – and I’d love to run that back.”

Cacace delivered a barb in the direction of some who doubted him.

He said: “I just want to let everybody at Matchroom, Zelfa Barrett and everyone know, stick that up you. You didn’t give me a chance – look at me now. None of you are getting a chance.

“I was an IBO champion. Everyone discredits the IBO, but it’s a title as well. I’m not going to discredit it; I was a world champion coming in here.”

Cacace had Mickey Hawkins junior and senior working his corner in Saudi on Saturday night.

An often frustrating career has now firmly hit the big time and Irish boxing’s best kept secret is out.

Few would have realised that Cacae went toe-to-toe with Cordina while suffering from a broken rib.

He said: “I have a good team around me and they were relaxing me. I’m not one to stay relaxed, I’m a panicker.

“The team I have around me kept me relaxed Every time I brought it up they changed the subject and told me to shut up.”