By Craig Watt
Australian lightweight contender Michael “The Great” Katsidis (25-1, 21 KOs) has a chance to secure the WBO interim lightweight title on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas against American Vicente Escobedo (21-1, 13 KOs) in what many people believe could be the fight of the night on a packed card of high class boxing, headed by the bout between Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez. The 29 year old Katsidis from Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia always comes to fight and never takes a backward step and many predict this battle with Escobedo could be an all action fight of the highest quality.
In the preparation for the fight, Katsidis started his training camp with long time trainer Brendon Smith in Thailand and then came to the US to complete his preparations taking on Jose Amando Santa Cruz as his chief sparring opponent. Santa Cruz was former WBC interim lightweight champion in 2006 and lost in a close split decision against Joel Casamayor in 2007 when he dropped the Cuban in the first and then lost on the scorecards by just one deciding point in the split decision.
Katsidis stated, “To have someone in the camp with me like Santa Cruz has really been good for me. He has given me a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the years and it’s been invaluable for me to spar with him in preparation for this fight. He has put his heart and soul into training with me and we have landed a lot of big blows on each other and he has really helped me in the build up to such a big fight for me. It has been a long time since I won a world title back in 2007 and I aim to regain the WBO crown on Saturday night. It will be a tough and exciting war with Escobedo and we both don’t like taking a backward step, so the fans are in for a treat.”
Against Escobede he takes on a fighter with a strong amateur pedigree after representing the USA in the 2004 Olympics and has lost just once in his 22 fight career to date. His only loss came to Daniel Jiminez in 2006 in a disputed split decision loss over eight rounds and he is unbeaten since, having beaten veterans Kevin Kelly inside two rounds in his last fight in May this year when he dropped Kelly twice to force a stoppage win.
Trainer and Manager, Brendon Smith confirmed the pedigree of Escobede by stating, “I expect Australia and the rest of the world to witness the best performance of his career from Michael. Escobede is a good fighter with a great amateur pedigree and has represented America at the Olympics so he is a top drawer opponent for Michael. He has been in with some top fighters and knocked them out but he hasn’t had a fighter like Michael Katsidis in front of him. However, we do not under-estimate him but it could just be the fight of the night in Las Vegas on Saturday.”
Smith has received some commitment from the WBO about the winner of the fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather. He stated, “At the WBO convention, the president has ordered that if Juan Manuel Marrquez (the current WBO champion) wins against Floyd Mayweather then he must defend his full title against the winner and if he loses, the winner of the match on Saturday will be then declared the full WBO champion. There is big incentive for the winner of this fight and so it will be a big opportunity for Michael to show his worth around the world.”