By Vitali Shaposhnikov: This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend what some are already calling the fight of the year: Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis. I arrived to MGM Grand at 7am, and wondered aimlessly in hopes of finding someone whose prediction would be fruitful to hear. The first person I met at the breakfast buffet carrying a plate of mashed potatoes and some steamed fish was Andre Berto.
We talked for a few minutes, mostly about pre-fight diet, after which I asked him what his prediction was for the main event. Berto had no problem predicting Marquez as the winner, saying that a boxer would almost always beat the fighter. After getting my food and sitting down at my table, I noticed someone interesting sitting right next to me: Nacho Beristain. While he could not speak English, his interpreter was around, so I had a quick chat with him as well. Of course asking him for a prediction was a lost cause, so we talked future. Nacho was more than confident that Pacquiao was avoiding them, and claimed that after beating Katsidis, camp Pacquiao would have no choice but to step up to the plate. By noon I made it to the Sergio Martinez press conference, and he picked Marquez as well, stating that Katsidis has a tendency to get cut easily. Beside the three names mentioned above, I also spoke with Emanuel Steward (he predicted a win by a very slight margin for Marquez, saying that this will be a very tough fight for both) and Larry Merchant (went with experience over age, and predicted a win for Juan as well).
The first fight that I sat down for was the Jason Litzau vs. Celestino Caballero. While I enjoyed the fight itself, very little could be taken from it. Both fighters were fighting their hearts out, but neither was performing ahead of the other. It was a very linear fight, with not too many climaxes. Jason took the “W” just as he deserved.
Next on the card was Andre Berto vs. Freddy Hernandez. What can anyone say about this fight? It wasn’t even a fight, it was a moment. When the clock was showing 2:07 the fight was waved off, thanks to Berto’s monstrous right hand. I know a bit about Berto, and this fight confirmed it all over again. As far as Hernandez goes, unfortunately this event was a bust, and he went home without the opportunity to show himself to the people.
Ninth round TKO! When watching a fight like Marquez vs. Katsidis, sitting down is nearly impossible. Every moment is exciting, every punch is destructive, and every second could mean the world. When Katsidis dropped Marquez with a left hook in round three, people jumped from their seats, worried as much as excited, some expecting to see the end of this fight with Marquez down on the canvas. I stayed calm, as I knew this fight was far from over. Sure Katsidis is a good puncher, we all know that, but this is Juan Manuel we are talking about, arguably the best lightweight of our time. For the remainder of the fight or for 6 more rounds to be exact, Marquez controlled the action. Katsidis is a volume puncher, but precision is not one of his better attributes. He kept pressuring Juan by throwing a non-stop barrage of punches, but only a fraction made it to their destination. Marquez on the other hand, made sure his punch percentage stayed up, and was able to land the majority of his punches. I thought the most important thing Marquez did in the fight, was jabbing while moving back. Most of those jabs landed clean, making Michael stop and re-compose himself. The boxer won, because he knew the science of it all.
The post fight press conference was something else. Litzau was ecstatic about his win, thanking everyone and proclaiming beer good! He kept saying that beer was good and life was great. Berto was more relaxed, as if this win was a given for him. He didn’t say much, but instead let Lou DiBella do the talking. Of course names like Pacquiao and even Marquez came up, but nothing solid was confirmed. As per Lou, negotiation will now take place.
While most would think there is a ton of things to say about Marquez from the post-fight press conference, but that’s simply not the case. To sum up his response to most of the questions and his own thoughts, I will use one word: PACQUIAO. Marquez took of his top shit, and under was a bright yellow t-shirt with “Marquez beat Pacquiao TWICE!!” written in big bold black letters in the middle of it. He feels that Manny has been avoiding him for some time now (with which I wholeheartedly agree) and wants to fight him and only him.
I definitely want to see Manny fight Marquez again. Fighting Mayweather Jr. would be ideal for Pacquiao, but I think a third fight with Marquez is the next best thing, and certainly what most of the people want to see.