by Cliff Rold
Lights, camera, action.
That’s what viewers will get on Saturday night. Whether it lasts one round, or all twelve, Saturday’s main event is a crossroads battle between arguably the greatest elite action fighter since Matthew Saad Muhammad and an emerging heir to the throne of blood.
Not to be confused with “Game of Thrones,” though trailers for the show look cool.
The great Erik Morales is past his best. He’s in a division, Jr. Welterweight, ten pounds beyond his last great win against Manny Pacquiao in 2005. Everyone knows it. Does that mean he has no chance this weekend?
And what of the chief support on Saturday’s pay-per-view show? Lightweight has been nearly can’t miss in terms of action for the last couple years. Will the trend hold on the Maidana-Morales undercard?
Let’s go to the report cards.
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 140 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 139.55 lbs.
Hails from: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Record: 29-2, 27 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #5 at Jr. Welterweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-2 (4-2, 3 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (DeMarcus Corley)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Andriy Kotelnik, Amir Khan)
Previous Titles: WBC Jr. Featherweight (1997-2000, 9 Defenses); WBO Jr. Featherweight (2000); WBC Featherweight (2001-02, 1 Defense; 02-04, 3 Defenses); WBC Jr. Lightweight (2004, 1 Defense); IBF Jr. Lightweight (2004)
Weight: 140 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 138.8 lbs.
Hails from: Tijuana, Mexico
Record: 51-6, 35 KO
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Record in Major Title Fights: 18-3, 11 KO (19-3, 12 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 12 (Hector Acero Sanchez, Daniel Zaragoza, Jose Luis Bueno, Wayne McCullough, Marco Antonio Barrera, Kevin Kelley, Guty Espadas Jr., In Jin Chi, Paulie Ayala, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, Manny Pacquiao)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 3 (Marco Antonio Barrera, Manny Pacquiao, David Diaz)
Pre-Fight: Speed –Maidana B-; Morales B
Pre-Fight: Power –Maidana A; Morales B
Pre-Fight: Defense –Maidana C; Morales C
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Maidana A+; Morales A+
Let’s get it out of the way: in his last fight, Maidana lost a WBA title fight against Amir Khan. Khan is still the WBA champ. This fight will be for a stupid interim belt from the same odious body. If Morales wins, he is NOT the first Mexican fighter to win ‘world’ titles in four weight classes. He’ll think he is. They might announce it as such.
That’s all nonsense.
The fight itself is not.
The early surprise of the bout might be that Morales will start off the quicker man. Most crossroads bouts like this carry an air of danger, of seeing a living legend overwhelmed. It’s what happened to Morales in the third Pacquiao fight when the fresher man’s speed just whipped through him. Maidana does not have that sort of speed. It’s hard to argue him as having much notable speed at all.
What Maidana does have is incredible will and heavy hands. His chin isn’t bad either. He’s going to get tagged in the first few rounds but he’ll also be landing. Past four rounds, the question will turn to how spry Morales’s legs can be as a heavily worn Jr. Welterweight.
The Lightweights present a clash of men closer to their primes.
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 134 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 134.85 lbs.
Hails from: Queensland, Australia
Record: 27-3, 22 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #5 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-2, 2 KOBY (4-1, 2 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Jesus Chavez)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, Juan Manuel Marquez)
Previous Titles: IBF Featherweight (2006; 2007-08, 2 Defenses); IBF Jr. Lightweight (2009)
Weight: 134 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 134.1 lbs.
Hails from: Gilroy, California
Record: 28-1-1, 18 KO, 2 No Contests
BoxingScene Rank: #7 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-0, 4 KO, 1 No Contest
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 4 (Enrique Sanchez, Eric Aiken, Malcolm Klassen, Joel Casamayor)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat/No Contest: 1 (Orlando Salido)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Guerrero B+; Katsidis B
Pre-Fight: Power – Guerrero B-; Katsidis A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Guerrero B; Katsidis D+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Guerrero B; Katsidis B+
This fight has an even more ridiculous title situation.
In his last outing, Katsidis lost in a Fight of the Year candidate challenge of Juan Manuel Marquez. Along with being the lineal champion at 135 lbs., Marquez also holds WBA and WBO belts in the class.
It’s for interim WBO and WBA belts.
Marquez didn’t vacate or lose or anything.
Fighters actually give up portions of their purse for this stuff. There’s a whole lot of P.T. Barnum waiting to be quoted. Someone else can roll those joints out.
Guerrero is an excellent boxer. Katsidis isn’t. However, Katsidis has a huge left hook and heart for days to go with passion. Guerrero can be a dispassionate fighter at times and, at Lightweight, has never been in with the sort of aggressive animal Katsidis can be. While he may have a win over the first man to defeat Katsidis (Casamayor), Katsidis faced a better version and made it memorable in defeat.
That’s an intriguing element. Guerrero has belts in two classes. Katsidis has been a Lightweight all along and lost wars to great, if older fighters, and was at least competitive with a very good one in Juan Diaz. He may be the more seasoned man here.
Seasoning doesn’t win fights on its own. Punches do and Katsidis, who often bruises and cuts, could get carved up against the southpaw technician. However, Guerrero hasn’t seemed to bring much punch to his third weight class. He needs to keep Katsidis off him and simply boxing and moving is unlikely to do it. This could well come down to how willing Guerrero is to stand in the trenches late and endure the relentlessness of Katsidis. Guerrero has shown some bend in the past. Katsidis has broken but never bent. Look for Katsidis to score a late stoppage or rough Guerrero up in enough rounds to earn a decision.
In the main event, the nod goes to conventional wisdom. Morales is going to make it fun before he loses, but he’s almost certain to lose. Maidana’s heavy hands force a stoppage sometime around the eighth.
Report Card Picks 2010: 8-2
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]