Hull lightweights Tommy Coyle and Luke Campbell look destined to face each other in the near future, but for that to happen both need to come through minor tests on Saturday night. Coyle faces Michael Katsidis, whilst Campbell faces former Coyle victim Daniel Brizuela at the sold out Hull Arena.
It's not unfair to say Katsidis has seen better days, a career of toe-to-toe brawls seem to have caught up with him, and whilst he's still got the punch power to be a threat to Coyle, his speed, intensity and stamina have diminished greatly.
The last competitive fight Katsidis won was over four years ago when he demolished Kevin Mitchell inside three rounds. That victory was followed by two defeats at world level against Juan Manuel Marquez and Robert Guerrero with Katsidis retiring three fights later after being outclassed by Ricky Burns and struggling badly in a defeat against Albert Mensah. Whilst Katsidis' retirement was due to medical reasons (scarring on brain tissue), it looked to be the correct time to call it a day.
Despite the initial worrying medical reports, which were later overruled, and his previous two poor performances suggesting he should remain in retirement, Katsidis made his comeback at the start of the year, bludgeoning Eddy Comaro in three rounds. That win was followed by a points victory over his old foe Graham Earl in a match-up that the British Boxing Board of Control had refused to sanction, the fight eventually going ahead in Australia after Earl had been absent from the ring for five years. It's safe to say you can't judge at what level Katsidis is at considering the quality of his comeback opponents.
Coyle has looked impressive and vulnerable in equal measures in his biggest fights to date; a knockout loss to Derry Mathews and a thrilling up-and-down last round stoppage victory over Daniel Brizuela. He was well ahead on the cards and looking comfortable against Mathews before walking onto a howitzer left hook in the tenth round that left him flat on his back and out for the count. Up until the knockout he'd looked impressive, controlling the fight with his jab, moving in and out of range well and catching Mathews cleanly numerous times, one slip cost him dear.
Having followed the Mathews defeat with two routine victories, Coyle then faced Argentina's Brizuela in another fight that was viewed as a routine bout. What followed was an eight knockdown, back-and-forth battle that left fans breathless. Coyle showed remarkable spirit to drag himself off the canvas four times, as well as impressive stamina to dig deep and throw punches back when he was near enough out on his feet. The obvious downside from the fight was that it raised major concerns about Coyle's ability to take a punch, Bizuela's not a puncher yet he seemed to hurt Coyle every time he landed cleanly.
It's a fight neither can afford to lose, Coyle's yet to prove he belongs at championship level and Katsidis knows a defeat here will permanently scupper his plans of getting back to a level similar to where he was a few years back.
With Coyle's apparent vulnerability around the whiskers, Katsidis can't be ruled out of pulling off a knockout win; he might not be the fighter he once was but punch power is usually the last thing to go and he certainly punches harder than Brizuela does. That said, Coyle must start as the favourite, he's younger, fitter, fresher, quicker and hungrier than his Australian opponent and should secure a points victory if he can box to a game plan and not make a costly mistake similar to that against Mathews.
Olympic gold medallist Campbell will be looking to make a statement against Brizuela, he'll be eager to win more impressively than his local rival did. Whilst Coyle was dragged into a war against the Argentinian, one senses Campbell will use his skills and speed to outmaneuver his foe.
Brizuela showed he'd got plenty of grit when getting off the canvas against Coyle, yet he also showed clear weaknesses, much like Coyle did in the fight. Brizuela leaves himself wide open for counter punches, especially when throwing hooks, and looks to be susceptible to body shots, which Campbell loves to throw.
This is a small step-up in class for Campbell, but in truth, he's levels above Brizuela. If the Argentinian swings as wildly as he did against Coyle, it's not hard to envisage Campbell picking him apart in a methodical and systematic manner, forcing a mid rounds stoppage.