By Terence Dooley
Michael Katsidis moved to 27-2 (22 early) by blasting aside London’s Kevin Mitchell in three rounds at West Ham’s Upton Park ground on Saturday night. The Australian boxer is now the man of the minute with a speculative offer from Amir Khan’s people on the table for the Toowoomba, Queensland native. This is just reward for Katsidis’ road warrior mentality, he has not boxed on Australian soil since 2006, but ‘The Great’ has his sights firmly fixed on a proper WBO title tilt against the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz, who fight for the full title on July 31st.
Indeed, amidst the analysis of Katsidis’ WBO interim title win a crucial fact has been largely overlooked: Michael, though operating at a high level in recent years, has yet to win a world title. The WBO interim title is just that, a belt created in order to keep the flow of contention, and sanctioning fees, going whilst the title holder proper, in this case Marquez, is off doing other things.
Katsidis has held the interim title twice; however, in his two genuine ‘world’ title fights he came up short against Joel Casamayor and Diaz, by tenth round KO and points for the WBO and IBO titles respectively. This lack of a genuine title win rankles with Katsidis and he is adamant that it is Marquez, not Amir Khan, who is at the top of the hit-list.
“I’ve been around America”, said Katsidis to BoxingScene.com when mulling over his road warrior status, “I waited for Juan Manuel Marquez but he doesn’t want to fight me, he said he can’t make lightweight anymore but now he is fighting Juan Diaz at lightweight! We’ve given him the chance to make it happen but he said he couldn’t make weight anymore.”
Katsidis is, understandably, upset about the Marquez situation yet he can comfort himself with a job well done here in the UK, and the Antipodean was also quick to comfort Mitchell, whose unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt on Saturday night.
“There is nothing negative to say about Kevin’s performance,” stressed Katsidis. “I’d say it is more to the point to say I’ve come up a level in my recent fights. People have asked the question if I’m a shot fighter but I have really taken onboard the experience from my losses.
“In the past, I’ve not been able to be at my very best but I put this win down to being at my best and being right. Kevin would have got a fantastic result against other fighters I’ve fought and I’ve got nothing negative to say about him after this fight.”
The 29-year-old enjoyed the occasion, claiming that he is not bothered who the fans cheer for as long as there are plenty of them in the venue. “There were twenty thousand people there and I’ve said many times that regardless of who they are cheering for they are cheering for the sport I love so I drew in that energy,” smiled Katsidis.
“This is a landmark in both our careers because so many people were interested in watching us fight, it was a real buzz. I’ve had to go away from Australia to get the really big fights because no one was prepared to come to my backyard and fight someone with my record. I’ve gained such experience. I used to show my cards early in a fight by going for the kill. Tonight, I didn’t even try for the power and just put speed in my shots. I’ve prepared for this fight and came out with a win.”
He continued: “If this fight went twelve rounds, I’d have been visiting the hospital, for sure, the shots I took marked me up, Kevin has got power but my movements were different this time, I was swivelling a bit more and showed something new in the ring. Being prepared is everything. Credit to Frank [Warren], he won the purse bids and there was no stopping and starting so thanks to them, it was an absolute pleasure.”
Indeed, Katsidis may find it hard to leave the UK, the fighter looked genuinely touched by the procession of fans who congratulated him as he left the press room; he was also quick to point out that Mitchell’s pre-fight struggles would have been swept under the carpet had the result went the other way.