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Forgotten Champions: Victor Cordoba


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Victor "Toby" Cordoba was a Panamanian slugger and brawler who captured the WBA super middle title by stopping the excellent Christophe Tiozzo in 1991 in a climactic war away in France. He held that title for 17 months, making one successful defence, until losing it by a controversial split decision to the famed Michael Nunn. At 6'1, Cordoba was a tall super middleweight, who also had long arms and came to fight in splendid shape and had the stamina that every brawler should, as well as the chin. He was only stopped twice, once early on and once at the end of his career. He pretty much came out of nowhere and faded into nowhere after losing his title. 

Cordoba was born in Punta Alegre, Panama, on 15 March 1962 and lives in San Miguelito, also Panama. Like most other Latin American boxers, he turned pro before the age of 20, in 1981 and first had two draws at 154 pounds, before losing his third fight, at 160, by KO3 against Nestor Flores. After one more draw, he finally started winning and would remain undefeated for quite a long time, aside from a disqualification loss to Abner Blackstock in Belfast. He avenged the loss to Nestor Flores by KO3, also winning the national and WBA Fedelatin middle title in the process, 30 August 1985. He soon vacated it to step up to super middle division, however. Between March 1989 and May 1990, he fought in Ulster Hall in Belfast and in his first fight there, he stopped Anthony Logan (who fought Nigel Benn and had him in trouble before getting ko'd by one punch) by TKO1. 

He started fighting in France after that, which eventually got him noticed by the managers of Christophe Tiozzo, the reigning WBA-champion. They got him a fight against Tiozzo which happened on 5 April 1991 at Palais de Sports in Marseille. It was a back-and-forth war which ended in the 9th round, when Cordoba hit Tiozzo against the ropes with a hard combination and Tiozzo hit the canvas. The ref waved it off without a count. It was Tiozzo's 3rd defence and nobody expected him to lose. The seemingly impossible had happened-an "upstart" from Panama, a virtual unknown, had taken the world title from France's then-most popular fighter! Tiozzo simply chose to slug it out too much against a guy who could do it as well as anybody. 

Also, for his first defence, Cordoba fought in France, this time Paris, against the 17-0 Italian contender Vincenzo Nardiello. Nardiello was shorter at 5'10 but put up a good fight, before being stopped by TKO in round 11. All scorecards were in champion's favour at the time of stoppage. For his second defence however, Cordoba went to USA to fight Michael Nunn, who was looking to reinvent himself at 168 after losing his IBF middle title to James Toney. The fight happened at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, 12 September 1992. By all accounts, it was a very close fight, however many writers present thought Cordoba had done enough to retain his title. In the end, he found himself the loser by a split decision: Patricia Morse Jarman gave him the fight by 114-112, but the other two judges had it 112-114 and 113-114, which testifies to the closeness of the bout. 

Cordoba asked for a rematch and got it, this time in Memphis, at The Pyramid, on 30 January 1993. The scores were very uneven this time, but all favoured Nunn clearly. And so, that was it for Cordoba-back to the drawing board. He came back on 3 June same year and beat Tony Booth, a journeyman, by TKO 3, in a light heavy fight. However, on 30 November that same year, he came in over the limit at 180 and lost to the total unknown Lumbala Tshibamba on points in an 8-rounder. Next year, he only had one fight, on 17 December, and won by UD10 against Tim Hillie. He was then absent from the ring the entire 1995, probably due to managerial problems, until he came back on 17 June 1996 to fight for the vacant NABO light heavy title against Leonardo Aguilar of Mexico. Obviously far from his old self, he was stopped by a TKO4. 

He chose to retire after that poor showing, but came back one more time in 1999, as a cruiser, and beat Eduardo Rodriguez by TKO4 at home in Panama, 30 July. He hung 'em up for good after that and retired with a record of 22 wins, 16 by ko, 6 losses and 3 draws. Victor Cordoba was an unlikely champion who always had to fight as the underdog, or in almost all of his biggest fights anyway. Despite being from Panama, he chose to fight all his big fights abroad, which speaks in his favour of course. He was simply a tough, strong and hard-hitting and aggressive fighter who at his best could give anyone a real test, if not beat them. And that is why, he is a FORGOTTEN CHAMPION!


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