by Cliff Rold
Before Friday, Michael Katsidis (28-6, 23 KO) could say it had only taken a current or former champion to defeat him. At the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the 31-year old of Toowoomba, Australia, found defeat over ten rounds of Jr. Welterweight action at the hands of 29-year old Albert Mensah (25-3-1, 10 KO) of Accra, Ghana. Mensah picked up the majority decision victory and can hope to parlay it into a title shot down the road. Mensah is currently unrated by all of the major sanctioning bodies.
Katsidis came into the bout at 138 lbs. while Mensah scaled in at the Jr. Welterweight limit of 140 lbs. The referee was Jay Nady.
Katsidis, a former title challenger at Lightweight, came out at the bell pressing at full speed, head down and forcing Mensah to work off the ropes. Mensah adjusted quickly, blocking and looking for short uppercuts inside while Katsidis pounded with the left jab and looked for rights to the head and body. Relaxed, Mensah began to find success picking off Katsidis with his right glove and clipping with the left. Katsidis took the shots well and answered by pressing harder, moving Mensah back to the ropes every time Mensah tried to get off.
The intensity of the opening round persisted in the next two, but Mensah slowed it down to a pace more commensurate with his chances at victory. With the slower pace, the accurate countering of Mensah stood out more. Katsidis made it close at the end of the latter frame with some excellent bodywork along the ropes.
Working at mid-ring in round four, Mensah landed left uppercut-right hand combinations in multiple. Katsidis took the blows, bouncing back and then pushing forward over and over. Katsidis landed the occasional clean shot but his offense was losing speed even as Mensah went to the ropes late. Mensah was all to eager to abuse his face with almost casual counters off the ropes.
Mensah continued to stay a step ahead in rounds five and six. Katsidis never stayed too far way, for too long, but he was eating what looked sometimes like a diet of four shots to one. In the final minute of the sixth, Mensah began to show signs of fatigue, his punches losing snap as the effort needed to keep Katsidis at bay was perhaps taking a toll.
Mensah’s fatigue grew more evident in the seventh. His shots were wider and he was on defense more than had been the case in earlier rounds. With just more than a minute to go, Katsidis seized his opportunity to get back into the fight. With Mensah going to the ropes, Katsidis started to let his hands move and, through sheer volume, began to land cleaner than he had in rounds. Mensah finally got off the ropes but found Katsidis landing still at mid-ring with right hands getting through the Mensah guard and a left for good measure.
The Katsidis rally was slowed in the eighth, fans instead treated to a difficult to score frame where both men had their moments. Katsidis closed the stronger of the two, letting his hands go as Mensah covered up along the ropes. A purpling under Katisidis’s left eye was surprising inasmuch as one would have expected a more colorful visage after all the shot’s he’d taken.
The ninth was marked by the boxing of Mensah, his shoulders and gloves picking off more than their share of shots, but leaving room to land clean, visible blows. Katsidis uncharacteristically stopped pressing late in the round, looking for chances to score quick rush shots. Those chances didn’t come about.
Katsidis did his best to look competitive in the final round, but his shaky legs betrayed the punishment and fatigue he’d accumulated on the night. It didn’t stop the valiant warrior from closing strong one last time, moving his hands freely and doing everything he could to convince the judges to slip him a round Mensah had otherwise clearly carried with effective leather.
In the end, the late surges were enough to earn an even call on one card at 95-95 but it was overruled at 96-94 and 98-92 for Mensah. Mensah wins his 16th straight and gets the biggest win of his career. Katsidis, giving a new division a try, found defeat for the fourth time in five tries.
The televised opener featured what promised to be an intriguing rematch between prospects. The promise was broken with a swift burst of revenge.
21-year old Welterweight Alan Sanchez (10-2-1, 4 KO), 147, of Fairfield, California avenged a 2010 six-round split decision loss to 25-year old Artemio Reyes (15-2, 12 KO), 146, of Colton, California, in a single frame on Friday night.
Reyes began the fight as the aggressor while Sanchez worked the perimeter and searched for counter opportunities. Their postures changed subtly at the midway mark of the round, their measuring out session shifting when Sanchez landed a right and stinging left hook to push Reyes backwards. Going to the body, and then ripping a right uppercut, Sanchez forced Reyes into the ropes. As Reyes worked off the ropes with his hands too low, a long right hand whistled onto his chin. Reyes’s knees buckled and Sanchez roared ahead.
An all-out proverbial pillar-to-post assault was unleashed, Reyes without defense as a final right hand sent him to his knees. Referee Joe Cortez rightly stepped in to wave the action done at 2:08 of round one.
Jr. Welterweight: Cameron Kreal (1-1-2) MD4 Tyler Lawson (0-2-1)
The card was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series.
UNDERCARD RESULTS BY RYAN BURTON
In an exciting brawl, Alexis Hernandez (1-1) defeated Sergio Lopez-Moran (0-1) via unanimous decision. Lopez-Moran landed punches at will but hit the deck three times in their featherweight battle. The final tallies were 40-34 twice and 40-35.
Yosmani Abreu and (2-2-1) Brent Rodriguez (1-3-2) battled to a four round stalemate in their junior welterweight fight. Rodriguez badly hurt Rodriguez in the first round and appeared to do enough to win the fight. The scores were 38-37 and 37-38 and 38-38.
In a battle of fighters making their pro debuts, Yosigey Ramirez and Edwin Reyes battled to a draw in their four round light flyweight clash. The scores were 38-38 on all three official cards
Richard Colas Quesada made his pro debut a successful one when he defeated Luis Gordon (0-1) via knockout at the :50 mark of the first round. The Cuban junior welterweight dropped Gordon with a left to the kidney that his opponent couldn't recover from.