By Daley James Francis: Australia’s blood-and-guts warrior Michael Katsidis is hoping to make it 3-0 on British soil as he returns to the UK to face Scotland’s Ricky Burns at Wembley Arena in London on Saturday (NoV 5).
Katsidis has already destroyed the world title aspirations of Graham Earl and Kevin Mitchell in epic matches (in 2007 and 2010 respectively) and is looking to complete a successful hat trick against Burns in a bout for the “interim” WBO lightweight world title.
Burns has had a terrific 12 months since upsetting the previously unbeaten and highly touted Puerto Rican Roman Martinez in September 2010. The fight was for the WBO super featherweight title and was a Fight of the Year candidate. Burns was down in the first round but fought back brilliantly to take the fight to Martinez and pull off the victory. Three title defences followed before Burns vacated the title to move up to lightweight. But it has to be said – with no disrespect to those fighters – that not one of those opponents will have prepared Burns for the hurricane that is Michael Katsidis.
There are not many fighters in the world who can match Katsidis for work-rate, heart and determination in the ring, and not many fighters are as dangerous early. Kevin Mitchell, so masterful against Manchester’s John Murray recently, was walked-through by Katsidis, and Pound-for-Pound modern legend Juan Manuel Marquez was dropped heavily and punished early before stopping Katsidis in nine rounds in November 2010.
Only the very best fighters have beaten Katsidis, and none of them have done it without receiving pain and punishment. Joel Casamayor was never the same fighter after his war with the Australian in March 2008. Casamayor won by tenth round TKO, but was behind on points and down in round six before Katsidis grew over-confident and walked on to a big left hook.
Every time Katsidis is beaten, the question marks appear. Is he shot? Are his powers on the wane? Frank Warren has made this error of judgement before with Mitchell. One wonders if he has made the same mistake again.
Following the victory over Mitchell, Katsidis suffered two bruising defeats on the bounce to Marquez and Robert Guerrero, but seemed fine in a routine three-round win over Michael Lozada in August, the fight taking place in his native Australia.
The trouble for Ricky Burns is that he is not a big puncher even for a featherweight, let alone a lightweight, as only 9 stoppage wins from his 32 victories will attest. It is hard to imagine Katsidis being pushed back or kept at bay by such a light-punching fighter, albeit one with fast hands, good skills and the heart of a lion.
If Katsidis should complete his British hat-trick, it won’t be before Ricky Burns has shown the world that he belongs at the same level, and then we will see if Kevin Mitchell can entice the Australian back for a fourth visit.
But like so many did before the Martinez fight, you write Ricky Burns off at your peril.
November 1, 2011