By Jake Donovan
The officials have been named for Saturday’s lightweight fight between Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns, which takes place at Wembley Arena in London, England.
Veteran referee Phil Edwards of the United Kingdom will serve as the third man for the 12-round lightweight bout. The three judges are John Stewart of the United States, Andrew Van Grootenboul of Belgium, and Britain’s own Terry O’Connor.
The winner will claim an interim lightweight belt. Also at stake is a possible mandatory shot at lineal lightweight king Juan Manuel Marquez. The other option would be an upgrade to full championship status should Marquez opt to not return to lightweight after next week’s catchweight bout with pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.
Katsidis (28-4, 23KO) enters the fight riding a third round knockout of Michael Lozada after having fallen short against Robert Guerrero in a bout with similar stakes as Saturday’s showdown with Burns.
The free-swinging Australian held interim status for more than a year after defeating Vicente Escobedo, and was able to parlay the ranking into a high profile showdown with Marquez last November. Katsidis was credited with a third-round knockdown, but was overwhelmed soon thereafter and eventually stopped in the ninth-round of an emotionally charged war on the heels of the death of older brother one month prior.
Sandwiched in between his title win over Escobedo and the loss to Marquez was his lone successful defense, a third round knockout of then-unbeaten Kevin Mitchell last May. The bout marked one of just two trips to the United Kingdom, with his other appearance marking his official arrival as a must-see action fighter, stopping Graham Earl in the fifth round of their wild lightweight brawl nearly five years ago.
Katsidis hopes to make it a hat trick of knockouts in the United Kingdom, though hardly a given considering his opponent.
Burns (32-2, 9KO) began his career fighting above the super lightweight limit but gradually shrunk down to super featherweight, where the majority of 10-year career has taken place. The lanky Scot proved his worth on the title stage when he recovered from an opening round knockdown to hand Roman Martinez his first defeat in their 12-round thriller last September.
Three title defenses followed, including a first round knockout of Nicky Cook earlier this summer, a bout in which featured the same referee (Edwards) as will Saturday’s contest.
Burns was rumored to travel to the United States to face Adrien Broner on Thanksgiving weekend, but instead opted to vacate his title and move up to lightweight, as his 5’10” frame can no longer handle the 130 lb. limit.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.