Adviser/agent Sampson Lewkowicz told BoxingScene.com today that the WBO is planning to enforce its ruling that Juan Manuel Marquez must defend their lightweight title against Michael Katsidis or be stripped of the belt. This itself is nothing new, but with Marquez tentatively set for a May 1 return to the ring, it looks like the fight could very well happen.
Rick Reeno of Boxing Scene says that "numerous sources" have informed him that Ricky Hatton is so "grossly" out of shape that a May date at his standard 140 pounds could prove impossible. So with Marquez (and I assume HBO) targeting the last Saturday before Cinco de Mayo as the ring return for Mexico's biggest active fighter, that would seem to rule out Hatton.
And after Hatton, there aren't many options any more lucrative than the rugged Katsidis.
If Marquez wants to fight at 140 (which I think is a mistake in general), there are guys like Timothy Bradley, but Bradley probably offers no more money than Katsidis. At 135, there's Edwin Valero, but they'd have to fight in Mexico or elsewhere, and Valero is busy on February 6 against Antonio DeMarco, and you never know how that one might turn out. There's Amir Khan at 140, and Freddie Roach has said in the past he'd like to get Marquez and Khan together at some point. To be honest, unless Marquez is completely past it (and I don't assume he is), I think he's too tough and relentless for Khan. At some point he's going to find him and counter him, and he won't tumble the way Dmitriy Salita did in his pathetic title "challenge."
I've said before that I love Marquez-Katsidis on paper. Katsidis has earned his way back into contention after a rough 2008 followed by a good 2009, he's an exciting fighter, and he'll come to win. Marquez is better than him, but also aging and pushing his body at 135 pounds. I could see Katsidis muscling through a more talented Marquez in a war. I can also see a more talented Marquez picking Katsidis apart in a war. It achieves a lot of things at once. It's a more than suitable title fight, a good shot for Katsidis to establish himself (he'd be the real world's champion at 135), a good bounce-back opponent for Marquez, and also not a soft touch. It's essentially a perfect fight for a lot of reasons.