World Lightweight Championship, 12 Rounds
Juan Manuel Marquez (c) v. Michael Katsidis
This is the type of fight that reminds us of why we watch boxing, should we ever wonder or even forget. But before we get into all that, let's look back a little.
In March of 2008, Juan Manuel Marquez lost an extremely narrow decision to Manny Pacquiao at 130 pounds, in a remarkable fight that was all action. One week later, Michael Katsidis faced lightweight champion Joel Casamayor in another Fight of the Year contender. Casamayor floored Katsidis twice in the first round, but the Aussie charged back to take control of the fight before being stopped in the 10th round. Months later, Marquez topped Casamayor to claim the lineal lightweight championship, while Katsidis fought a strangely tentative bout against Juan Diaz in a losing effort.
In February 2009, Marquez beat Diaz in the 2009 Fight of the Year. Katsidis, meanwhile, bounced back from his back-to-back losses, winning three in a row over Angel Hugo Ramirez, Jesus Chavez and Vicente Escobedo. Earlier this year, Katsidis went to the UK and demolished unbeaten Kevin Mitchell. Marquez beat Diaz again in July after an experimental trip to welterweight and dominant loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2009.
The win over Escobedo gave Katsidis the interim WBO title, putting him in line to face Marquez, who holds the WBO and WBA belts along with the lineal championship. That fight came on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard, and after all was said and done, we talked about a potential war between the two lightweights. A year ago, it was a fight we wanted to see.
Now it's here.
Grading the Fighters
Both can punch. Katsidis has heavy, thudding power, while Marquez is far more accurate, a brilliant counter-puncher, and feeds on aggression, which Katsidis brings by the truckload. Marquez is plenty faster than Katsidis, too, and defensively, while Marquez is not what he used to be, he's still much better than Katsidis, who doesn't know what the hell this "defense" is, although one time he appeared to try it out, and didn't like the results (the Diaz fight). They both take shots extremely well and while they're no strangers to hitting the deck, they don't stay there easily.
This fight is for the legitimate, lineal lightweight championship of the world. Marquez and Katsidis are the two best lightweights in the world right now. It's a great matchup.
Good Fight Potential:
Can't be a bad fight, basically. Both of them are warrior-style fighters who walk through punishment, and if they get knocked down, they get up again. You're never going to keep them down. It's a precision counter-puncher who is past his best but still a terrific fighter against a guy who will bleed buckets and keep coming forward. On paper, this should be the Fight of the Year.
Overall Pre-Fight Score:
I can't say any more than what I've already said. It's a can't-miss fight.
There are a couple of ways I can see this fight going. Michael Katsidis is younger and physically much stronger than Marquez. If he can lean on Marquez and use that strength, as well as effectively pressure offensively, he could break down the 37-year-old Marquez and eventually beat him down. It won't come easy, but Katsidis' wins rarely do.
But then there's the other way. Marquez is, simply put, much more skilled than Katsidis. If he's able to weather Katsidis' storms, or simply cut him off before he can land with any volume, he could dominate this fight. But even a domination will probably result in an exciting fight.
There isn't a lot to say about this fight, actually. Every boxing fan on earth knows this is a must-see fight, a war on the horizon, a fierce test of endurance, strength and skill awaiting two of the toughest guys in boxing.
All that really comes to mind is a quote from the great HBO series "Deadwood," from the incomparable Al Swearengen: "Tell your God to ready for blood." Marquez UD-12