‘Warrior’. When the term is used in boxing, two of the first names that spring to mind are Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1) and Michael Katsidis (27-2-0). Two of the sports greatest modern day gladiators. And on the 27th November these two centurions of the ring will meet in a lightweight clash of the titans for Juan Manuel Marquez’ WBO and WBA straps. This bout has been years in the making and after doing things the hard way, Michael Katsidis has finally got a well deserved, well earned shot at World honours, but standing in his way is the reigning king of the lightweight division, Juan Manuel Marquez.
Overview of Michael Katsidis’ career
Katsidis has been involved in plenty of high profile fights in his career, against names like Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz and Kevin Mitchell. The first big fight of his career was a battle in Britain against the tough slugger Graham Earl for the interim WBO lightweight title, which turned out to be one of the fights of the year.
As the fight began Katsidis went on the attack straight away, immediately letting Earl know the sort of power he possessed. Earl stood toe-to-toe with Katsidis though and fired back, both men showing that they were well up for a scrap. Katsidis landed a couple of well placed uppercuts and worked the body of his opponent, and as the end of the round neared Katsidis landed a perfect right hook sending Earl to the canvas. Earl regained his feet on the count of eight but Katsidis went straight back in with another flurry and sent Earl crashing back down. Mickey Vann again counted to eight and Earl got back up.
The second round began and Katsidis rushed in to try and end the fight. He got Earl against the ropes and unloaded with a relentless barrage of combinations, after a short period Earl finally returned fire and both fighters started to trade on the spot, punches flying thick and fast in both directions. Katsidis eventually got the better in the trade though and threw a peach of a right hook which landed flush on Earl’s jaw, Earl sunk to the canvas for the third time in the fight. Once again though Earl managed to regain his feet and continue, but almost as soon as the fight resumed, Earl’s corner threw in the towel. What happened next was extraordinary to say the least. Earl was still firing back so Mickey Vann picked the towel up and threw it back out of the ring, and a few seconds later Earl threw a big right hook that landed, and forced Katsidis to touch down. Katsidis looked hurt from the shot as his legs had turned to jelly. It didn’t take long for him to recover from the shot though and he managed to regain his tempo, yet again resuming as the aggressor.
The third round was all action just as the previous two rounds had been. Katsidis continued to throw combo after combo but late on in the round he dealt a low blow to Earl and was deducted a point. The ringside commentators gave it a 10-8 round to Earl although personally I think it was a Katsidis round.
By the end of the 4th round Earl had a cut open above his eye from the huge Katsidis flurry. Mickey Vann warned him that if the cut was any worse by the end of the 5th round, he was stopping the fight. So the 5th round started and Earl looked as though he had been given a new lease of life, boxing extremely well and turning into the aggressor for the first time in the fight. It didn’t last long though as he ran out of steam and Katsidis regained control. Earl saw the round through to the end of the bell but it was to be the last round for him. It wasn’t Mickey Vann who stopped the bout as the cut hadn’t worsened, but his corner as they said he was taking too many punches. There was no shame in losing though as he had put in a huge effort and both fighters did themselves proud.
Katsidis’ next major fight was to be against the Cuban Joel Casamayor, with Katsidis’ interim WBO title on the line. The fight proved to be a step too far for Katsidis as he was eventually stopped in the 10th round. The problem was that although Katsidis was ahead on all three of the judges scorecards, he continued to come forward and stand toe-to-toe with Casamayor. The stoppage was more a case of Katsidis’ eagerness to get the stoppage victory as opposed to Casamayor actually being a better fighter.
In Katsidis’ next fight he was to fight Juan Diaz for the vacant IBO lightweight title. It was another bad night for Katsidis as he lost a split decision. The one judge who scored for Katsidis though, many thought scored it incorrectly, meaning Diaz was unlucky not to win via a unanimous decision. Katsidis seemed to have an off night though as he underperformed massively, it wasn’t the same fighter who had destroyed Graham Earl.
Katsidis eventually regained the interim WBO title that he had lost to Casamayor. Casamayor had vacated the title and a fight was set to up between Katsidis and Vicente Escobedo to determine who would claim the title. Katsidis won the fight on a split decision.
Next up for Katsidis was the promising, young British prospect; Kevin Mitchell. Many thought Kevin had a good chance of beating Katsidis if he boxed smart, but Katsidis made sure that that wasn’t the case. Mitchell’s game plan went straight out of the window when Katsidis started landing punch after punch. He couldn’t cope with Katsidis’ constant pressure and cagey style, and it was all he could do to hang on. In the third round Katsidis had Mitchell against the ropes, and after a burst of punches, he landed a huge left hook that knocked Mitchell senseless. Katsidis unloaded and the referee jumped in, bringing Mitchell’s unbeaten streak to a dramatic end.
Overview of Juan Manuel Marquez’ career
Juan Manuel Marquez has had one of the most glittering careers of any modern day fighter. There are more P4P fighters on his resume than you can count on both hands and he will most definitely go down as one of Mexico’s all time greatest. Name’s on his record include: Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera, Joel Casamayor, Chris John and Juan Diaz.
Marquez-Pacquiao I and II
Marquez-Pacquiao I was to be contested at featherweight, and ended in a hotly contested draw. In round one Pacquiao had Marquez on the canvas three times, his speed and aggression from the off catching Juan Manuel cold. From the second round onwards though, Marquez managed to find his feet and box a very smart fight, making it a long night for Manny. Marquez completely dominated the mid rounds and in a lot of people’s opinions, did enough in the way of counter punching in the later rounds to win the fight. He was to be denied though as one judge scored the fight 115-110 to Pacquiao, another judge scoring it 115-110 to Marquez, and the final judge scoring the bout 113-113 meaning the fight was to end in a draw. Many boxing fans thought this was a robbery as Marquez has won so many of the rounds after coming back from the three knockdowns in the opening round. Another piece of controversy which emerged after the fight, was that the judge who had scored the bout 113-113, had made a scoring error, instead of scoring the opening round a 10-6 for the three knockdowns, he scored it a 10-7, meaning Pacquiao would of won on a split decision. You could say it evened itself out, making the draw a more than fair result.
Marquez-Pacquiao II was to be contested at super featherweight this time around, and yet again, proved to be a hotly contested bout. The fascinating thing about this fight was that Marquez was knocked down in the third round, but from the fourth round onwards, all the rounds were scored dead even, meaning nine rounds were scored even! One judge scored the bout 115-112 Marquez, another judge scored it 115-112 to Pacquiao and the final judge scoring it 114-113 to Pacquiao, meaning Pacquiao was victorious via a split decision. Compubox figures proved that the judges had incorrectly scored the bout though. They had Marquez landing 21% of his jabs to Pacquiao’s 14%, and Marquez landing 42% of his power punches to Pacquiao’s 37% making it yet another hotly disputed bout.
Marquez-Diaz I and II
Marquez-Diaz I was one of the best fights in recent years winning Ring magazine’s fight of the year 2009. The fight was an all action, all out war, with both fighters standing toe-to-toe, neither backing down from the other. Diaz controlled most of the early rounds with a very aggressive style and was rewarded when he opened up a cut above Marquez’ right eye in the fifth round, Marquez hit back though and opened up a cut above Diaz’ right eye in the eighth round. Round nine was the best round of the lot though with Marquez finally stepping on the gas. With around 40 seconds left of the round, Marquez unloaded on Diaz with a quick combo of jabs and uppercuts, at the end of which Diaz sunk to the mat, the beating clearly taking it’s toll on him. He rose before the ten count and Marquez jumped on him straight away, yet again unleashing a huge combo on Diaz which ended with a big uppercut that sent Diaz crashing to the canvas for the second and final time. The referee didn’t bother to take up a count, waving the fight off as Diaz lay flat out on the floor, blood pouring from the cut on his eye. The scorecards at the end of the fight proved just how close the fight had been, one judge had the bout at 77-75 to Marquez, another had it 77-75 to Diaz, and the final judge had it all even at 76-76 meaning the bout was a draw at the time of stoppage!
Marquez-Diaz II took place earlier this year and the WBO ordered that the winner was to go on and face their mandatory challenger, Michael Katsidis. The fight ended up being nowhere near the standard of their first. The fight was quiet and ended up being as one sided as it had looked. Marquez won a big UD, the scorecards reading; 117-111. 116-112 and 118-110.
Other notable wins on Juan Manuel’s record are Marco Antonio Barrera, Joel Casamayor, Orlando Salido and Rocky Juarez.
Marquez also challenged P4P king Floyd Mayweather Jr, but the increase in weight proved to be too much for Marquez and he lost a twelve round shut-out, doing well to last the duration of the fight after getting knocked down in the second round. Marquez later claimed that he lost his speed with the amount of weight he had to put on to go up.
A lot of boxing enthusiasts are split between the fighters in the upcoming fight between Marquez and Katsidis, with the odds tipping slightly in Marquez’ favour. A few years ago Marquez would have been the clear favourite but after a number of wars and battles, an aggressive fighter like Katsidis could be his undoing in his old age. Marquez is without a doubt the best boxer of the two, and a country mile ahead of Katsidis technically and tactically, but the question is will Juan Manuel be able to handle the constant all out pressure and power of Katsidis? Will age be a key factor? That remains to be seen.
Power B+ A-
Speed B+ B-
Defence C+ D+
Movement B+ C+
Stamina C+ B+
Killer Instinct A+ A+
Reflexes B- B-
Chin A- B+
This is a hard fight for me to predict as these are two of my favourite fighters, neither duck anybody and both are true warriors. My head is telling me that Marquez will weather the storm and box his way to a unanimous decision, but my heart is swinging towards Katsidis. The reason is that I think it would be a huge shame, and a robbery to the sport if Katsidis was to retire without ever having won a world title.
My prediction is a mid-late round stoppage for Michael. It was a close one to call to begin with but I think after recent events, Michael will show a new side in the ring come the 27th November. I think he’ll show a lot of built up aggression, more than he usually does in the ring. The come forward, aggressive style and power, combined with the huge incentive to win could prove far too much to deal with for Marquez.