JOE Cordina says it feels like he has been 'robbed' of his world title after being forced to pull out of his defence against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov because of injury.

The Welsh fighter has had surgery on his right hand and will not be able to put his IBF super-featherweight belt on the line in Abu Dhabi on November 5.

Cordina became world champion by knocking out Japan's Kenichi Ogawa in Cardiff in June but the governing body will now strip him of the title.

"Absolutely gutted," said the 30-year-old. "Worked my whole life to become a world champion and I haven't even had the chance to defend the title. Feel like I've been robbed."

Cordina was set to fight on the undercard of the light-heavyweight world title fight between Dmitry Bivol and Gilberto Zurdo Ramirez.

IBF mandatory challenger Rakhimov had stepped aside to allow the former St Joseph's fighter take on Ogawa when he continued his unbeaten record in his 16th professional bout.

Cordina may have to settle for being mandatory challenger for Rakhimov after he recovers from hand surgery.