Katsidis vs. Earl: Interview With Katsidis' Manager Brendan Smith

12.10.06 - By Tony Nobbs: This Saturday night WBO number one lightweight contender Michael “Rocky” Katsidis (21-0, 19 KO's) was scheduled to face Mexico's WBO number eight Osvaldo Lara in a title eliminator in his home town of Toowoomba, Queensland. However that fight was canceled after his career took a dramatic twist for the best with the retirement of world champion Acelino Freitas last week. Katsidis, 26, who was nick named after former WBC super welterweight champion Rocky Mattiolli, will now face off with 28 year old, 24-1, 12 KO's number two contender Graham Earl of Luton, England within 90 days for the vacant championship. Eastside spoke to Katsidis' trainer manager Brendan Smith about his charges chances and he answers the knockers who have criticized the way he has guided “Rocky's” career.

Here is what Smith, who came agonizingly close to securing a world title fight for featherweight November Ntshingila in 1997, had to say.

Eastside Boxing: Brendan, firstly, what is the feeling in the camp?

Brendan Smith: We are ecstatic to get the shot but no way are we content. We know we still have a lot of work to do.

ESB: What do you know of Graham Earl?

BS: He is a good fighter, he has been around, but I don't see anything from the tapes to say that he will beat Michael. I think Michael is the stronger of the two, he the harder puncher and the better boxer. But listen, we are not underestimating Graham Earl, he is the number two contender, he is 24-1, 28 years old and this is also his first shot at world title. He
will be coming in to the fight hungry.

ESB: Who will Rocky be sparring for the fight?

BS: As of yet, we have not decided. We are waiting for the purse bid, that will take place in the next two weeks, and confirmation of a date and venue. We will be bringing guys in to spar and using local fighters as well.

ESB: How did you hear of the fight?

BS: Acelino retired I think last Thursday and we were notified almost immediately. We at first tried to get the fight with Lara sanctioned as an Interim title but the Graham Earl camp jumped on it immediately as well and said their guy was number two and they wanted to be in one corner.

ESB: If the fight takes place in England, do you think that it will affect Michael's chances?

BS: We would prefer the fight to be in the USA, we are with North East Promotions but once you step between the ropes it doesn't matter. If we have to go to England then so be it. Michael has fought around the world as an amateur.

ESB: In the past Michael has had trouble getting in to the U.S. Has this been sorted?

BS: Yes. Michael has secured a 5 year Visa to the U.S.

ESB: What do you say to those who suggest that Michael is a protected fighter who has only received this shot by going through the regional bodies?

BS: Tony, I would say that I don't really care what they think... If I didn't think Michael was up to it we would not have taken this fight. Michael has been seasoned. He had an amateur record of 75-6, he was an Olympian. He was tested in his second pro fight when he beat James Swan for the Australian title on points over twelve rounds (Swan later fought a draw with current IBF 130 lb champ Gairy St Clair), he stopped Fred Kinuthia, who beat Ben Rabah. Ben Rabah has fought for a world title since. In his last fight he knocked out Jakkirt Suwannalirt who went twelve rounds with Lovemore Ndou in his previous fight. He has stopped imports who have fought for world titles. He has defeated four Olympians. He has boxed Yodsanan (Nanthatchai), Robbie Peden, Kostya Tszyu, Anthony Mundine over the years. He sparred Danny Green before the 2000 Olympics. He has done a heap of rounds with Yodsanan and Robbie. Listen, I knew the first time I took him over to spar Yodsanan, before his eleventh fight, how he picked it up when Yodsanan put it on him, that he was going to be nothing but a world champion. Anyone who fights Michael best be in the shape of their life because he will give it everything he has. When I push him in training, when I want more of him, he gives it, sometimes I don't know where he finds it. I have never trained a more fierce competitor.

ESB: You had to scrap the Osvaldo Lara fight. Providing of course you defeat Earl would you be interested in giving Lara a shot at the title?

BS: If we win we would love to give Osvaldo a shot. It must have been devastating to him and his camp, five hours before thy were due to fly out that the fight was canceled. They are good people.

ESB: Thanks Brendan and all the best.

BS: Thanks Tony. Anytime mate.

Article posted on 13.10.2006

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