Katsidis comes up short against Mensah

By Paul Strauss: Michael Katsidis “The Great” looked familiar Saturday night at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, but he just wasn’t the same guy. He fought his usual fight, which is pressure, pressure and more pressure. He out threw Albert Mensah, and definitely created more wind than the Tornado from Ghana, but he just couldn’t cause as much damage.

Under the onslaught of Michael’s punches, Mensah remained calm, used a shoulder roll and chin tuck defense to stay relatively unscathed, while at the same time picking his opportunities to catch the “come at you face first” Katsidis. Unfortunately for Michael, his mug was readily available for Mensah to pound on, and before the fight was over, there was considerable swelling around both eyes.

He fought gallantly and kept the fight close based on seer volume punching, but he was the one who was getting nailed with the harder, more telling blows. From the first round on, he showed his ring age. Looking closely, you could see his footwork wasn’t quite right. He’s never been pretty to watch, but in the past his legs provided more strength and punching torque, so he could overcome squaring up and coming at you without a jab. He would attack with more speed and strength than he did Saturday. Against Mensah, it was more like he was just there, a definite presence, but a little more stiff-legged than usual, even more hittable, if that’s possible. He was also pushing his punches.

The fight had a definite pattern. Michael would force Mensah backwards, and get him where he wanted on the ropes, but his attempts to step around and create different angles fell short. For the most part, Mensah was able to see and adjust to whatever Katsidis wanted to do. The Great couldn’t live up to his nickname. He tried and tried hard, throwing a couple hundred more punches then Mensah over the course of the ten rounder, but his volume punch attack lacked real steam. His shots were more like thrusts, failing to really strike. Most of the time he couldn’t blast threw Mensah’s defense. When he did, the power behind them just wasn’t there, and he couldn’t quite turn things his way.

His best rounds came after Mensah temporarily punched himself out with big, looping hard swings. Several times Mensah would land good combinations to the available head of Katsidis. He would then convince himself that Katsidis was ready to go, and he would foolishly start unloading with the wild shots. Most missed by a wide margin, and caused him to punch himself out. The experienced Katsidis had enough left in that big heart of his to take those opportunities to get back into the fight. He would crank things up again and jump all over Mensah. It was at those times that some of his shots got through. But, he still couldn’t really hurt Mensah, and soon Albert would get his energy back, and start throwing fewer the more precise, straight shots again.

The ebb and flow continued for much of the fight, but viewers couldn’t help but see that Michael was taking too many clean punches. The thirty-one year old ring warrior was showing his ring age. That’s when everything starts to slow down just a bit. The legs and footwork don’t work quite as well as they used to, and the punches aren’t quite as sharp. To make matters worse, Michael was in there against a bigger, taller man, who he couldn’t muscle as much as he wanted. Fortunately for Michael, the Tornado from Ghana wasn’t a big puncher, but Albert could throw hard enough to still cause considerable damage, which usually came in the form of a left uppercut, followed by a right. If those landed, then Albert would come back with a more traditional one-two.

In judging the fight, if you went strictly by the numbers, Katsidis should have got the nod, or at least a draw. That’s how Richard Houck scored the fight. However, if you scored the fight based on which fighter you would rather have been, then you would agree with Patricia Morse Jarman and Richard Ocasio, judges who had it 96-94 and 98-92 respectively over the ten rounder.

What’s next for Michael Katsidis? Going into the Saturday night fight, he obviously was dreaming of a big victory in the junior welterweight class, but he came up short. To him that meant more punishment, and he’s taken a lot over the course of his career, while providing a hell of a lot of excitement for fight fans. Maybe he should start thinking about hanging up the gloves? There’s just so much the old noggin can take.

Article posted on 14.04.2012

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