By Craig Watt
Former WBO interim lightweight champion Michael Katsidis (23-2, 20 KO’s) returns to boxing action at the Cebu Coliseum, Cebu City in the Philippines on Saturday night. It is the first fight of 2009 for the Australian fighter known as “Katsidis The Great” who comes off two defeats in his last two fights. The 28-year-old all action fighter from Toowoomba, Queensland lost in 2008 against high quality opposition in Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz but enhanced his reputation in the process for those who had not seen the brave warrior fight before. He takes on Angel Hugo Ramirez (19-4-2), from Argentina over twelve rounds for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight Title. The fight is televised live in Australia from Cebu City on PPV on Main Event from 9pm AET.
Katsidis is one of Australia’s most exciting fighters and always seems to be in an exciting bout- this was seen in the superb “war” with Joel Casamayor in March last year, one of the best fights of 2008. His come-forward style coupled with the volume of punches he throws makes for an exciting spectacle and against the veteran Cuban he got up off the floor in rounds one and ten and dropped Casamayor in the sixth before finally being stopped in the tenth round, when he was ahead on two of the three judges scorecards.
Despite the brutality of the fight with the Cuban champion and the stoppage defeat he returned in September 2008 and lost a split decision over twelve rounds to Juan Diaz at the Toyota Center, Texas. In a tough fight fought close in he lost by scores of 115-113, 116-112 and one judge having Katsidis the winner by 115-113. In both defeats however he gave a brave and exciting performance and showed true character, gaining many new fans live in the US and those watching on television via HBO.
Although an Australian hero, Katsidis has a massive following in the Philippines where the fans have an appreciation of his exciting style. This reputation was enhanced when Katsidis defeated popular local fighter Czar Amonsot in 2007, when they fought in Vegas for the interim WBO lightweight title which the Australian won an exciting unanimous decision. He stated in the build up this week, “I am an all-out fighter. I give it all. When there is nothing left, I always find more and go that one extra step. You have to be physically strong to do it, like I do it and mentally strong. I’m in here to get the business done. I’m a fighter. There is no secret to my style.”
Katsidis had an amateur pedigree of 75 wins from 81 fights and represented his country at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and has amassed 20 stoppage wins in his 23 winning bouts. His tendency to get cut often adds to the excitement and against Ramirez he starts as heavy betting favourite. If he wins in style he has already been promised a bout with Mexican Julio Diaz in California, on the 10th April 2008.
Katsidis stated in the final press conference, “There’s talk of a lot of big fights at the moment and I’ll look at all that after I get this win. Not only am I going to win this fight, I’m going to win it really well. He (Ramirez) is action packed and he keeps on coming. I’m still improving with every fight and come this next fight I will be at my very best and Ramirez will be running right onto that. I’ll soon stop him in his tracks.”
Overall, with much at stake for the returning Katsidis it should prove to be another exciting bout, with ups and downs, as we are used to watching with the former WBO interim champion at lightweight.