18.02.08 – by James Slater: On March 22nd, in California, there figures to be an extremely interesting lightweight clash between two fighters whose careers are going in different directions. One fighter, Joel Casamayor, looks to be heading towards the end, while the other guy, Michael Katsidis, is the new blood-and-guts star of the lower weight classes. The question is, can the 27-year-old Katsidis, 23-0(20) become the first man to stop the veteran 36-year-old Cuban-born Casamayor who is currently 35-3-1(21)?
Judging by his last fight, Casmayor looks ready to be taken. Looking simply dreadful while “winning” his fight with Jose Armando Santa Cruz this past November, Casamayor was given a points win that angered many. Looking old, tired and anything but sharp, “El Cepillo” was knocked down in the opening round and appeared to have lost a clear decision to Santa Cruz after 12 pretty dull rounds. If the same Casamayor shows up against the hard punching buzz saw that is Australia’s finest in Katsidis, he is in real trouble. With his ageing body and slowed reflexes, it seems nothing but a beating awaits the Cuban defector.
Still, Joel is a tough and proud fighter, and the Santa Cruz fight aside, is it possible that Casamayor will fight one more great performance in March? The great fighters can pull out one last big effort, and maybe Casamayor will do just that. Joel is a better fighter than he looked last time out, and will surely enter the ring ready to do battle, knowing his very career to be on the line, when he climbs through the ropes with the unbeaten slugger from Australia. It’s hard to envisage anything but a Katsidis win, however. The 27-year-old looks pretty much unstoppable right now, and will be looking to tear right through the veteran as soon as bell one rings. Katsidis always fights the same way; he attempts to go right through whoever is in his path. It’s this intense style of fighting that has fast made the fighter nicknamed “The Great” boxing’s new Arturo Gatti.
During sensational wins against Graham Earl and Czar Amonsot, in fights in which Katsidis suffered a knockdown and horrific cuts, respectively, Katsidis was making his stunning arrival on the big stage. Loving his newfound fame as a massively admired crowd-pleaser of a warrior, Katsidis is in no mood to lose to a faded force like Casamayor. Joel was a fine champion, with some excellent and entertaining wins of his own earned in his time. Who can forget Casamayor’s first fight with the late, great Diego Corrales, for one? Getting up off the floor to prevail in a hugely exciting slugfest, Joel won the approval of the fans that night. But now, at age 36, and after having looked so poor last time out, those type of performances have almost certainly come to an end.
Casamayor doesn’t figure to get blown away quickly on March 22nd, but to this writer’s way of thinking, barring a performance that ranks right up there with the truly great ones of boxing, Joel will fall at some point. Unable to either keep up with Katsisis’ ferociously set pace, or keep the young puncher off of him, Casamayor will go out on his shield after about six or seven quite brutal rounds. Who knows, after losing in such a heroic fashion in his last stand, Joel may even find himself more than somewhat redeemed from the Santa Cruz showing in the eyes of the fans?
In yet another blisteringly entertaining fight, look for “The Great” to become the first man to stop the once formidable fighter known as “El Cepillo.”