It's no exaggeration: from the introductions of the fighters, to the staredown at center ring, there was something in the air. And Joel Casamayor and Michael Katisidis delivered on the tension in the building with a knock-down, drag-out, action-packed barnburner of a fight, better than anyone could have expected. When all was said and done, Casamayor found himself back in the real mix at 135 pounds, knocking the warrior Aussie out in the tenth round.
It was a hell of a fight, mean-spirited and nasty all the way, and I feel bad for anyone that passed on it.
Casamayor (36-3-1, 22 KO) came into the ring swaggering like the "El Cepillo" of old, full of bluster, arrogance, and the idea that he was better than his foe. Katsidis entered the ring with his usual gladiator garb on, which prompted Casamayor to jump directly in his face as soon as Katsidis entered the ring. The two camps were pulled apart, and nobody even had their robes off yet (to be fair, Katsidis wears no robe).
Moments into the fight, Katsidis tasted the canvas from a Casamayor left. And after getting back to his feet, Casamayor hit him with another, even better straight left, sending the Aussie challenger to the mat again. Katsidis survived the round, but it certainly didn't look good.
Through two more rounds, Casamayor's speed and sneaky power gave great trouble to Katsidis (23-1, 20 KO). It appeared as though we were in for an outclassing, a good, tough fighter unable to hang with the once-great champion, finding his rhythm and power once more.
Not so fast.
In the fourth, Katsidis came roaring back into the fight, forcing Casamayor into clinch after clinch, threatening to ruin what had been a great night of fighting. But Katsidis kept it interesting with his lunging attacks, hard right hands, and then it all broke wide open in the sixth round.
With a digging body shot followed by a left hook and a right hand, Casamayor was sent falling onto the ring apron by Katsidis, and for a moment, it looked like the fight was over. A remarkable comeback had been staged, and Katsidis would walk out the new lightweight champion.
And, again, not so fast.
Casamayor recovered, but Katsidis continued battering him through the seventh and eighth rounds. With the fight now firmly in his grasp, Casamayor came out strong in the ninth, winning the round but it was scored even at best for the Cuban defector, as he had a point taken away in the round for a low blow.
After the round, Katsidis argued with his corner over what round it was. He was quite adamant that it was the 11th. Maybe that should've tipped us off that he wasn't quite all there at that point, tired and beaten up.
It ended pretty suddenly. As Katsidis came charging at Casamayor again, the wily veteran bombed him with an enormous shot, sending him flailing to the mat in mid-punch of his own. Katsidis, on shaky legs, came back to fight on. But it wasn't long before Casamayor had him staggered again, mostly due to a short right hand, and the referee jumped in to wave it off.
While the crowd was pro-Katsidis, and most fans are going to instinctively like the all-action warrior more than the flashy, pompous Casamayor, Casamayor flat-out beat Katsidis tonight. This was no robbery like last November; Casamayor came to fight (at this point, you have to accept his clinches to some degree), and he beat a gritty young fighter.
So Joel Casamayor owns the lightweight championship of the world still, but Katsidis gave a good impression as a legit contender. This is no B.S. action fighter that can't hang with the best. Casamayor was on his game tonight, and Katsidis tested him hard.
On the undercard, Librado Andrade (27-1, 21 KO) became the mandatory contender to Lucian Bute's IBF super middleweight title with an eighth round TKO of Robert Stieglitz (31-2, 19 KO) in a damn good fight. Andrade was his usual damage-absorbing, action-pushing self, but Stieglitz had a fine showing in defeat. He was simply out-lasted by a robot. They both cut a good pace, landed hard punches, and fought well. Andrade is a tough guy to beat just because he never stops coming forward.
In Wales, Andreas Kotelnik stopped Gavin Rees in the final minute of 12th round to take the WBA junior welterweight title, handing Rees his first loss in the process. It was the second straight shortcoming for one of Enzo Calzaghe's fighters, following Enzo Maccarinelli's knockout loss to David Haye on March 8. Rees is now 27-1 (13). The new champion Kotelnik improves to 29-2-1 (13).