Sharkie’s Machine: Casamayor TKO’s 'Spartan' Katsidis in Ten!

Michael KatsidisBy Frank Gonzalez Jr. - March 23, 2008 -- WBO Lightweight champ, Michael Katsidis (23-1, 20 KO’s) entered the ring at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon California wearing a Spartan helmet, a tattooed sun that takes up the whole of his back and an undefeated record. He’s known as a big puncher and he fights with an intensity fight fans love.

36 year old, WBC co-champion, Joel Casamayor (36-3-1, 22 KO’s) took Michael Katsidis’ WBO title Saturday night in California in a roller coaster ride of a fight. It started out with Casamayor putting Katsidis on his seat twice and hitting his opponent while he was downed the second time without drawing a foul. Classic Casamayor?

Casamayor proved to be the toughest fighter Katsidis has ever faced. After the first round was over, I doubted Katsidis would last through the second round. Luckily, I was wrong.

After watching age dispatch youth a couple of weeks ago, when Nate “The Galaxy Warrior” Campbell dispensed with Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz, Casamayor had to be inspired to put on an exciting performance to enhance his own marketability. Things were moving in that direction.

Michael Katsidis is a warrior, he comes to fight and will take your head off if he can. His skills are mediocre and his resume bears no names that suggest he’s ready to deal with Class A fighters but Katsidis is a tough guy who brings big heart and good power to every fight. Joel Casamayor was his first real step up and Katsidis proved a worthy opponent.

The Fight:

Round One

The first round started with Casamayor’s first punch putting Katsidis down. After beating the count, Casamayor went for the finish and landed another shot that floored Katsidis only seconds after the first knock down. Casamayor punched Katsidis while he was down but drew no penalty. Katsidis got up, steadied him self and survived the round. Easily a 10-7 round for Casamayor.

Round Two

Katsidis left eye was reddened, his face already starting to swell as he engaged Casamayor, who popped him with jabs and was playing matador to Katsidis’ bull. Casamayor was too fast, too accurate and too difficult to hit. Katsidis landed a right hand to the face that sent Casamayor backwards into the ropes. Katsidis kept coming forward and did manage to score a few good punches. He was warned for a low punch during a late exchange with Casamayor. Katsidis was game but looked to be in over his head as Casamayor let him come forward so he could counter and score. Katsidis managed to connect with good shots later in the round and Casamayor took notice of his power. Casamayor taunted Katsidis after the bell and the ref steered them apart.

Round Three

Casamayor was in charge, moving well, skillfully popping his jabs and combos and making Katsidis miss early on. Katsidis landed what looked like a lucky punch that sparked him to rally and score some more. Katsidis was able to land a few shots to the body and Casamayor backed into the ropes and Katsidis went after him, lending some change to the momentum of the fight. Casamayor used his superior skills to neutralize Katsidis sudden rise in confidence by using slick moves and making him miss.

Round Four

Casamayor eludes Katsidis, but Katsidis is relentless and keeps coming, mindful to throw shots to the body in close and scoring. During a close exchange, Katsidis unleashed a right, left hook, right cross and another left hand combo that staggered Casamayor, who held Katsidis, forcing a reset. Katsidis started throwing more uppercuts inside and catching Casamayor more frequently. Katsidis went for the kill, pouring it on while Casamayor was hurt and on shaky legs. Casamayor took a few more clean shots to the head from Katsidis as they brawled in the corner in the last 30 seconds. Ref warned Casamayor for a low blow. Casamayor scored some round ending punches. Clearly Katsidis best round.

Round Five

Katsidis picked up where round four ended, pressuring Casamayor and always trading shots and going to the body. Katsidis landed a solid right near the corner ropes. Katsidis made a critical adjustment in keeping his right hand up high to guard against Casamayor’s left hand. Katsidis had turned the tide and was now controlling the tempo as Casamayor was forced into a defensive posture to ward off the crashing punches of Katsidis. Katsidis warned for a low blow. Katsidis focus on the body was paying off as Casamayor was starting to slow a bit. It was Casamayor who had to respect Katsidis’ power at that point.

Round Six

Katsidis was pressuring Casamayor and forcing him into the ropes and letting the leather fly. Casamayor took a few big shots and was looking less impressive by the minute. The ref warned Casamayor for a low punch. Casamayor kept finding himself in the corner ropes. Katsidis all over him. A Katsidis left hook knocked Casamayor through the ropes and out the ring. Casamayor comes back fine. Katsidis went for the kill and Casamayor survived. Katsidis’ bodywork was paying off.

Casamayor’s corner tells him, “Don’t wait, don’t wait!”

Round Seven

In the opening moment of the first round, Katsidis pressed Casamayor, who grabbed onto him and Katsidis pushed him off and Casamayor slipped to the canvas. The ref warned Katsidis. When action resumed, Katsidis landed a left hook right into Casamayor’s face, where? Up near the ropes. Katsidis landed more frequently and Casamayor moved move and was doing less. Katsidis landing inside with clean shots up and down. It was a brawl, which favored Katsidis at that point. Katsidis again scored up and down on Casamayor against the ropes.

Round Eight

Casamayor boxes from the outside, popped his jab, Katsidis charged in to brawl, doing his best work near the ropes. Casamayor showed a hell of a chin as Katsidis was landing a lot of clean shots to the face. Katsidis jabbed right into Casamayor’s face. Casamayor looked slowed. They traded and both scored. Katsidis did more and is hurting Casamayor.

Round Nine

Katsidis landed the first meaningful punches to start the round. Casamayor threw a very low blow. The ref stopped the action and took a point from Casamayor, who had been warned a couple of times prior about low punches and this one being the lowest of the low. Interestingly, HBO’s Max Kellerman remarked that he didn’t like the call because since Casamayor usually fouls ‘outside of the refs view’ and this foul was right in his view, so the ref should have took it as unintentional. That was the dumbest thing I heard him say since last time. So, it’s ok to take a point if a guy fouls opposite the ref’s view but not cool to do so if a guy fouls directly in view. Ok. Somebody call Guinness.

When action resumed, it was more of the same with Katsidis chasing Casamayor around the ring, always punching and taking some good shots back from Casamayor in return. Quietly, Casamayor was changing the tide yet again, this time in his favor. Those shots slowed Katsidis down a bit and Casamayor was able to pick him off with some good power punches. Casamayor landed a couple of left hooks before the bell.

Round Ten

It started with a bang as met at center ring. Katsidis took a wild swing; Casamayor ducked and wrapped him up. They reset and Katsidis chased Casamayor into the corner ropes but Casamayor turned, landed a stinging left check hook that jerked Katsidis head sideways. He fell on his seat as he tried to hold himself up on the ropes. It was a knockdown and the ref counted. Katsidis was but looked weak. On shaky legs, Katsidis pressed Casamayor into the ropes. Casamayor landed combination left hook, right cross and Katsidis looked stunned as the referee stepped between them and stopped it. I thought the stoppage had some question marks attached to it. For one, Katsidis showed in the first round how tough he was and came back after being downed twice in a matter of seconds but in the tenth, after being down once and still pressing forward, the ref stopped it? Maybe he saw something I didn’t. I thought Katsidis may have regained his legs and continued but suddenly, that wasn’t an option. I have no doubt that the ref did what he thought was in the best interest of the fighter.

It was over. Joel Casamayor was the winner by TKO 10.

* *

It was a good fight and both guys will see their stock rise. Katsidis showed he can hang with the big boys. Casamayor reinforced the notion that he’s the lineal champion of the Lightweights. He gave a good account of himself by showing great boxing skills, respectable power and that crafty ring generalship/bag of tricks, which defines him.

Casamayor only fought once in 2007 and that fight was nothing to be proud of, as many thought Casamayor actually lost a close fight with Jose Armando Santa Cruz (25-2, 14 KO’s) last November. With the rise of Nate Campbell, who consolidated a few of the title belts, the only logical opponent for Casamayor at this point is a rematch with Campbell, who Casamayor beat by decision back in early 2003.

During the post fight interview, Casamayor was posed with that question but said he wanted to fight Barrera, Pacquaio or Morales. Why? Money, of course. Casamayor has no interest in fighting Campbell and that really sucks because in boxing, it’s not like regular sports where there are rules and legitimate regimentation. If Casamayor can pick and decide who he wants to fight, that is not good for boxing. It’s especially disturbing when he shows no interest in the fight most fans want to see at his proper weight class. Why wouldn’t Casamayor want to win ALL the titles at Lightweight and be the undisputed Champion?

Sounds like Casamayor wants to move down a few pounds, where he’ll have a bigger advantage and can face some high profile Featherweights before father time revokes his boxing license. I think Manny Pacquaio would knock him out. M.A. Barrera is not a brawling pressure fighter anymore, so that would be a boring fight. As for Erik Morales, well, he’s one of Boxing’s greatest sons but, I think his best days are respectfully behind him. Maybe Casamayor should go down to 122 and fight either Rafael Marquez or Israel Vazquez. Funny, I thought the heavier the weight, the more the money. Why not move up to 140 and go after the likes of Ricky Hatton, there’s big money fighting Hatton in England.

As for Michael Katsidis, I think he proved himself on the biggest stage of his career to date and I like his chances to remain inside the top ten in the Lightweight division. I’d love to see him fight Juan Diaz or Amir Khan. Katsidis has a lot of heart and this loss to one of the best fighters in the division will make him a better fighter. While I usually don’t care for fancy ring entrances, I did like the Spartan helmeted entrance. He proved worthy of such a helmet.

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Article posted on 24.03.2008

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