“If we’re fighting, I’m knocking him out...” Opportunity knocks for Anthony Cacace as Joe Cordina awaits in Fury-Usyk Riyadh rumble

Belfast fighter Anthony Cacace fighting for IBF and IBO super-featherweight titles

Anto Cacace will battle Joe Cordino for the IBO and IBF super-featherweight titles on Saturday night
Anto Cacace will battle Joe Cordino for the IBO and IBF super-featherweight titles on Saturday night (Stephen Dunkley)

IBF & IBO World Super-featherweight titles: Anthony Cacace (21-1) v Joe Cordina (17-0) (Saturday, live on DAZN, TNT Box Office, Sky Sports Box Office from 5pm)

OPPORTUNITY took a while to find its way to Andytown. Has it’s knock come too late for Anthony Cacace?

A natural talent with a fearless fighting heart, Cacace was blessed with the punching power, footwork and boxing brain to mix it at elite level (Barry McGuigan spotted that a decade ago) but he has been avoided and side-stepped by his rivals and now, at 35, Father Time is not necessarily on his side.

But better late than never.

Cacace (who weighed in at 129.13lbs with Joe Cordina spot on the 130lb limit) should be fresh enough. He is 21-1 over 12 years as a professional so he hasn’t been over-worked and that one loss was a near-thing against Martin J Ward in a British and Commonwealth title battle in London seven years ago.

He was the underdog then and he’s the underdog again on Saturday night at the Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia up against a man who rates himself as the best super-featherweight in the world.

“I’ve got to go out there and prove it,” said.

“Everyone can say they’re the best – I can say it and I can believe it, but I’ve got to prove it. Cacace is no mug, he’s a top talent, a top fighter and it’s going to be a very, very hard night and “I’m looking to come through it with flying colours because I’ve put the graft in, I’ve sacrificed so much and I believe my hunger is going to be a little bit more than his.”

Cacace will have former amateur coach Mickey Hawkins senior in his corner. Hawkins shepherded Damaen Kelly to world title success in the noughties and the camp is confident and upbeat.

Cacace has made absolutely no secret of what he intends to do to Cordina. When the bell rings in Saudi, he wants to track him down, drag him into a scrap and knock him out.

“I promised myself before I came over that I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself,” he said.

“I wanted to come out and soak it all up and enjoy it. I’m in for a really hard fight and I’m raring to rock-and-roll.

“I’ve been waiting 12 years for this opportunity and I’m ready to go, so forget about the boxing side of things, I’m ready to fight. I want a fight and that’s what I’m going to do. If we’re fighting, I’m knocking him out.”

Cordina countered: “Let him bring it. I’ll meet him in the middle and he might not be ready for what I’m going to bring.

“Everyone is here for Fury and Usyk but I need to steal the show and that’s what I’m intending on doing.”

Everything has to go to plan for Cacace but the matchmakers aren’t daft, they know this is a well-matched fight. Yes Cacace will go out with bad intentions determined to capitalise on openings when he sees them but he’s not a novice. He’ll know he can’t take liberties with Cordina so he has to be courageous but he has the boxing IQ and experience to be smart, settle into the fight and then pick his moments to fully commit and throw everything at the Welshman.

Leaving emotion to one side, Cordina on points looks the safest bet but if it’s his night then maybe ‘The Andytown Apache’ can grab an opportunity that took so long to come his way.

IBF featherweight champion Joe Cordina has a 17-0 record
IBF featherweight champion Joe Cordina has a 17-0 record (Stephen Dunkley)