After vacating his super featherweight title and bailing on a fight in Cincinnati with Adrien Broner, Ricky Burns will take a tough test next on November 12, moving up to lightweight to face Aussie brawler Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO lightweight title.
Katsidis (28-4, 23 KO) last fought on August 13 in Australia, his first fight at home since 2006, and easily ran over Michael Lozada. It was an experiment at 140 pounds, where Katsidis said he would stay, but apparently this Burns fight is good enough money for him to stay at 135.
Burns (32-2, 9 KO) won a title at 130 pounds last September when he upset Roman Martinez in Scotland, and then took three frankly borderline bogus defenses against Andreas Evensen, Joseph Laryea, and a Nicky Cook who didn't belong in a boxing ring and had to quit in the first round with a back injury.
Katsidis, 31, has definitely seen better days, but he's been on the road in the United Kingdom before with great success. In 2007, he broke down Graham Earl in a Fight of the Year candidate, and in 2010 totally overpowered Kevin Mitchell for a big victory. There was talk that Mitchell and Katsidis could rematch before the end of this year, with Mitchell coming back in July with a strong victory over John Murray, but instead Katsidis will face Burns.
On paper, I can't see Burns doing much with the relentless, bull-strong Katsidis. Burns is a good boxer, and a clever fighter, but he has almost no power, and Katsidis tends to march through fighters like that by not caring about being hit. He'll take five to land one, and physically I think he has every advantage in this fight despite Burns' superior height and reach.
One thing you can say for Burns is that this now seems like it's quite legitimate a move up in weight. It's not like he ducked Broner and then looked for an easy win at 135. He's taking on a fighter who will be favored to beat him.