Part two of the Mayweather-Marquez PPV undercard preview is the bout that could steal the show, in my estimation.
Lightweights, 12 Rounds - For the interim WBO Title
MICHAEL KATSIDIS v. VICENTE ESCOBEDO
The Skinny On Michael Katsidis: Dear friends, have you yet to meet Mr. Katsidis? He likes to throw down. Rumble. Go to war. Get hit in the face. Not be able to defend. Hit people in the face. Bleed. These are his turn-ons. Turn-offs include mean people and coffee (yuk!)
Katsidis has often been compared to Arturo Gatti, and while it makes some sense, keep in mind that he'd definitely qualify as a second-rate Gatti. He's a humble action star fighter, yes, but he's not quite a Gatti-level warrior. His two best wins have come against Czar Amonsot and Graham Earl, not exactly the class of the sport, though both tough, tough competitors and fine fighters.
Here's the epic round four between Katsidis and Earl from 2007. Make sure you watch it the whole way through. I know at first it kind of seems overrated, but it picks up and turns into a damned barroom brawl:
The fight with Amonsot was even better, and both are worth tracking down on the interwebs if you have the free time (and if you don't, make some).
His two biggest fights, though, came against Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz in 2008, both losses. He walked into a buzzsaw with Casamayor, which was quite unexpected, and was floored twice in the opening round. He actually miraculously came back to take momentum in a barnburner of a fight before Casamayor caught him again the 11th and finished him off. That fight is also worth tracking down. The Diaz fight was a stinker by Katsidis standards, featuring some horrible corner advice from trainer/manager Brendon Smith, who felt they were winning by "boxing." Watching Katsidis "box" was painful, as he's slow of hand, doesn't move well, and wins fights on pure muscle and guts. Diaz routed him on most scorecards, and earned a decision win.
The Skinny On Vicente Escobedo: If you're a gamer, you might remember Vicente Escobedo from Fight Night Round 3, and if you're not a big fight fan, you might remember yourself asking, "Who?" and wondering if this was some old-timer you didn't ever hear much about, then you went to Wikipedia and found out he was a 2004 Olympian and not much else.
Escobedo's pro career has moved slowly, but he's finally turned it up in 2009. Both he and Katsidis won fights at Lightweight Lightning in April, a Golden Boy PPV featuring four lightweight fights designed to be a tournament, a format that has long since been forgotten and frankly hasn't been mentioned by anyone but me since then, I don't think. For my own amusement, I'm considering Katsidis-Escobedo the final of the Lightweight Lightning tournament, with Edwin Valero and Rolando Reyes having dropped out (though I'm quite certain Reyes would love to be fighting either of these guys right now).
Escobedo's fight that night with tough veteran Carlos Hernandez was a show-stealer, quietly one of the better fights of 2009, and a coming-out party that proved Escobedo has some toughness. Since there isn't much video footage of Escobedo out there, here's a video piece from MaxBoxing.com instead:
Scott's Pick: I wonder to myself if a lot of people will be picking Katsidis simply because he's the bigger name, having been featured on American TV more often. I think that's a fool's bet. Katsidis may be the bigger puncher and may also have the better chin, but I don't think he can really hang with Escobedo in any other area. He's not quick enough, not a clever enough fighter, doesn't have the pedigree. I like Escobedo to win this one after 12 rounds of good action that he largely wins on pure skill, but I won't be surprised when Katsidis tests his mettle and gets him in trouble at some point.