Dominant D as Rocky rocks (Diaz over Katsidi & Juarez TKOs Barrios)

By Paul Strauss: The best thing Michael Katsidis did all night was the post fight interview. Otherwise, he was totally dominated by Juan Diaz. Diaz out jabbed him. He out fought him on the inside. He throw better combinations, which were faster, straighter, and more damaging.

Katsidis has a big heart, though. There's no quit in him, and he tried everything he knew how to do, which included using his left shoulder as a weapon a few times. He couldn't back Diaz up with his jab, or a sustained attack.. So he tried to do it with his just force and weight of his body, walking into Diaz, head down, crouched forward like an offensive lineman.

That didn't work either, because Diaz kept stepping around him, turning him, and unleashing combinations at the same time. When Katsidis did manage to get in tight, it was too close, which smothered his own efforts. Consequently, he would have to step back to unloaded. Over and over again Diaz would beat him with the jab. When Diaz felt Katsidis was ready for the jab, he would surprise him with a lead right or rights. By the end of the fight, Katsidis' face was a mess, but he raised his arms like he was victorious.

The Bob Papa, Max Kellerman, Lennox Lewis and Harold Lederman all predicted a near shut-out. However, the judges saw it differently, awarding the victory to Juan Diaz on a split decision. Max tried to give the judges the benefit of the doubt, rationalizing about different perspectives and angles, etc. Then, he went on to unload on them, especially the one judge who scored it a draw. Corner man Brendon Smith felt that judge was the only one who got it right. Smith continually told Katsidis that he was doing "lovely" and never gave the Aussie the impression he was losing the fight. He never told him late in the fight that he needed a KO to win, and in fact when others in the corner would offer advice to Katsidis, Smith would caution them to stop.

It’s always a good idea to have someone in charge, but when that someone is missing the point, then it's time to speak up. It's unfortunate that no told Michael, “You’re losing the fight!” In fact, he was losing just about every round, and needed to crank it up to his highest level.

Katsidis seemed to instinctively know, because he did step things up, but it was not enough. Even when he threw more punches, Diaz' s punches were accurate and destructive. The end result was pretty close in punch totals, but Diaz a 32% to 17% accuracy rate. Their faces clearly showed evidence of who was landing and who appeared to be catching.

Both of these guys are tremendously exciting to watch, and audiences will tune in either one's next fight. Katsidis can become a better fighter if he learns how to loosen up more........less muscle and more fluid rhythm. He often has his feet spread too far apart, and squares up. He also moved to his left too much, and got tagged a lot with Diaz' lead rights. He wants to fight like a Rocky Graziano, but throws punches like Paul Newman (Somebody Up Their Likes Me), swinging wide and diminishing his power punching Fans can't help but like the kid though, and he was a class act in defeat. When asked by Max if he wanted to take a easier opponent for his next fight, he said, "Nah, go hard or go home." He’s a tough kid.

The under-card ended the way most thought it would, but the route to Rocky Juarez's TKO victory wasn't quite what most expected. It was generally thought that Jorge Barrios would employ his usual wild attack. In fact, he boasted in pre-fight interviews that he planned to KO Rocky. However, he came out boxing, using a good jab, and following with stinging combinations.

Rocky admitted in the post-fight interview that Barrios had him befuddled. Rocky said Barrios was slow, but (he) kept landing punches on me, and I couldn't figure out why?

However, by the middle rounds, Rocky started landing occasional hard body shots.

These punches (mainly the left hook) seemed to weaken and slow Barrios. That's not to say that he wasn't also landing good shots to the head as well, because Barrios was cut early on, which is not unusual for him. He has those sharp bone type eyebrows, and that kind of thin skin.

Barrios strategy might have been his own undoing. He wanted to out work Rocky, to tire him, and then stop him in the later rounds. He definitely was outworking Rocky, but never seemed to have him in trouble; although, it was obvious Rocky appeared confused at times. Rocky has a very tight defense, though, and has never been stopped even when in with great fighters such as Barrera and Marquez. He wasn't going to let that happen against Barrios either.

Both corners wanted their fighters to throw more uppercuts. Occasionally they did.

Barrios would many times start his attack by falling in first, his arms coiled back. Rocky caught him with a nice short left hook because of it. The way it would look is Jorge would lean in, draw his left back, like a cross bow string, and then release it in a somewhat looping motion. At the same time he drops and cocks his right, which leaves him open for the left hook.

Barrios was winning early on, but was also cut by the third round, plus he was penalized for throwing low blows. Rocky's trainer Ronnie Shields advised his fighter, “Fight inside, and back this guy up.”

By the time the eighth round came, Barrios was still ahead, and throwing a high volume of punches. Criticism of Rocky is he doesn’t do enough, and that once again seemed to be the case with this fight. It appeared he might be letting it slip away.

In the ninth round, Barrios was once again warned for low-blows. Just a few seconds later lost another penalty point. Now, he was in danger of being disqualified! Regardless, Barrios kicked it up another notch, and ended the round with a flurry of punches. The punch total was so one sided, that even if a high percentage of accuracy was awarded to Rocky, it appeared it still couldn't be enough, even with the penalty points to get a decision.

In the tenth, Barrios came out like a tiger. He was throwing punches in rapid fire and had Rocky looking for relief. However, Barrios seemed to punch himself out. Barrios appeared extremely tired. Rocky's earlier hard body shots no doubt had something to do with this sudden onslaught of fatigue too. Toward the end of the round Rocky had Barrios in trouble. He was gasping for air.

In the eleventh, Barrios' gaping open mouth cost him, as Rocky landed in just the right spot to rip open a bad cut at the right upper corner of his mouth. With only seconds left in the fight, Rocky threw a combination, ending with a right that put Barrios down. He got up, but the fight was stopped at 2:55 seconds.

Rocky's generally passive expression turned into a big grin in the post-fight interview.

He still feels he is destined to be a champion, and promised he would never give up until that goal is accomplished .

Were either of these candidates for fight or fights or the year? Probably not, but nonetheless, it was an exciting fun night of boxing.

Article posted on 08.09.2008

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