ANTHONY Cacace produced the performance of his life to rip the IBF super-featherweight title from Joe Cordina in the eighth round of their world title fight at the Kingdom Arena, Riyadh on Saturday night.

On a night in which he had to produce his best, he delivered and then some with a display of power, determination and no little skill to dethrone the previously undefeated Welshman as 'The Andytown Apache' brought world honours back to his home city.

Cacace had endured so many ups and downs in his career, but kept working and believing his time would come and come it did as the West Belfast man put so many disappointments over the years firmly in the rearview as he kicked the door through on boxing's biggest stage.

He said in the build-up he was leaving nothing to chance and he was as good as his word, dropping Cordina and hurting him badly in the third. The outgoing champion showed plenty of heart to hang in there and rally, but by the sixth he was getting broken down, hurt badly again in the seventh and finished off in the eighth.

Cacace always had a reputation for being a power puncher and one of the most naturally gifted talents in Belfast and if there were any doubters before, it's unlikely any remain as the 35-year-old became the toast of his home city and in particular, West Belfast.

"I am in shock," he said in the ring afterwards.

"Nobody gave me a chance but I came over here confident. Micky Hawkins, Barry O'Neill, Michael Hawkins Jr, Andy (O'Neill) and Iain Mahood - we've all done this job. 

"A wee lad from Andytown coming all the way over to Saudi Arabia and smashed up the champion. Andytown proud - I'm bringing this belt back to Andytown. (I'm) the first Irish super-featherweight (world) champion there's been and I'm proud to make history tonight."

Both settled into the fight from the off, finding their range by trading early body shots.
Cacace got through with a right upstairs but the speed of Cordina was apparent as he was countering when he Belfast men fell short, landing a good right, but it was an even opener with both having their moments.

Cacace began the second on the front foot, putting his punches together but was certainly wary of the Welshman's counters, taking one to the top of the head and retreating as the battle warmed up.

The pendulum swung decisively in the third for Cacace who initially was warned for hitting on the break, but there was nothing wrong with what followed as he got through with a huge right that badly hurt Cordina who was on unsteady legs. Cacace knew he was in trouble and piled on the pressure, dropping Cordina with a chopping right. He rose, but was in real trouble and knew he needed to hang on, covering up as heavy fire rained in. Referee Bob Williams was having a long look, but the bell saved Cordina.

"Joe also did the same to me," the new champion stressed after.

"This is professional boxing and we are in there for a fight. The referee said "break" as I threw a punch and Joe threw one at the same time to the body, so there was nothing dirty done in there."

To his credit, Cordina managed to gather himself by the start of the fourth and back he came, landing a right on Cacace who perhaps got a little careless and this gave him some encouragement as the Belfast man was looking for another big shot.

It was certainly on a knife-edge as they traded at close quarters in the fifth and this was suiting the Belfast man who was getting the better of it.

The sixth followed a similar pattern but Cacace was well on top, landing around the guard and with uppercuts up close as Cordina was beginning to look a little ragged and there was a sense the accumulation may be starting to break him down. He had Cordina pinned to the ropes in the seventh, again hurting him with right hands but the Welshman was showing plenty of grit to ride out yet another storm and have a little bit of success of his own.

It proved to be his final stand as Cacace was not to be denied, wobbling Cordina with a huge right early in the eighth, this time the follow-up leading referee Williams to step in and save Cordina from further punishment. 

"Joe is a helluva competitor," a beaming Cacace added.

"He's an Olympian, a two-time world champion. I gave 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. From here on in, I want to be boxing in Saudi Arabia every single time.

"I was an IBO world champion. Everybody discredits the IBO, but this is a title as well, albeit maybe not one of these legitimate ones, but I was a world champion coming in here. Now I'm the IBF world champion. It's just unbelievable."