By Nick Parkinson, courtesy of The Daily Star
MICHAEL KATSIDIS has warned Ricky Burns he’s up for Saturday’s fight now he has finished grieving for his dead brother.
The Aussie is aiming for his third knockout on British soil when he disputes the vacant WBO interim lightweight title with Scotland’s Burns (below) at Wembley Arena.
The winner will fight for the world title next year and Katsidis, 31, enters the ring favourite despite losing two of his last three fights.
He was stopped in the ninth round by Mexican world No.1 Juan Manuel Marquez and then on points to Yank Robert Guerrero.
But Katsidis admits he was mentally beaten before the Marquez world title fight following the death three weeks earlier of his brother, Stathi – a famous Aussie jockey Down Under – after a drug and alcohol binge a year ago.
Katsidis, who knocked out Brits Kevin Mitchell and Graham Earl on previous raids to these shores, got over his mourning with an eight-week training trip to Thailand in preparation for Burns.
Katsidis, who comes to the ring dressed as ancient Spartan warrior, adopted a spartan lifestyle in Thailand to ensure he is not left mourning the demise of his career next weekend.
“It has been a very difficult year but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” he said.
“I’ve had plenty of time to grieve over losing my brother and it’s time for me to shine and next week I will do that.
“My brother’s death definitely affected me not only in the Marquez fight but also against Guerrero.
“Physically I was 100 per cent for the Marquez fight – my body was there but mentally I wasn’t.
“By the time I fought Guerrero, I suffered the most because I had been back home and seen my family and it was very emotional. It took its toll on me in the fight.
“People may think I’m on the slide because I’ve lost twice in the last year, but I know better.
“I was in Thailand for about eight weeks. There’ was plenty of sparring there and it’s a very basic way of living.
“Accommodation is very simple and you also eat very simple meals, like chicken fried rice.”
Coatbridge-born Burns, 28, is stepping up a division after ruling as WBO world super-featherweight champion and admits the Aussie will be his hardest opponent yet.
He said: “I could have earned a lot of money by staying on as WBO super-featherweight champion but it’s not always about money. When I was offered the fight with Michael it was the perfect chance for me to step up.
“I see this going the full distance and it will be the fight of my career. I know people are writing me off but that’s when I’m at my best.”
Watch Burns v Katsidis live on BoxNation (Sky Channel 456) from 7pm on Saturday.