Michael Katsidis showed why he’s the #1 ranked man at lightweight with a frenzied 3rd round assault that stopped top-10 opponent Kevin Mitchell, the betting favorite who appeared to be outboxing Katsidis… but maybe it was the always-fun Katsidis who was using his head.
(We’ll hit other weekend results here, too, aside from the HBO double-header, like another matchup between two men in the top 10 of their division, cruiserweights Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Giacobbe Fragomeni.)
Mitchell looked, early, like the slicker, better fighter. His jab was halting Katsidis in his tracks, and Katsidis was mostly tentative in the 1st besides. He did have one stretch of the round where he chased Mitchell down and battered him a bit against the ropes, but while I gave the round to Katsidis on the strength of that, it was Mitchell who appeared to be doing more of what he wanted overall.
In the 2nd, Katsidis began moving backward. Huh? That never happens. Even as the Aussie has sharpened some of his boxing skills, he’s still been the one coming forward in all his fights. Katsidis lost the round easily, but Mitchell admitted later that he got drawn in by the tactic.
Early in the 3rd, a Katsidis left hook wobbled Mitchell, and suddenly the power Katsidis has missed in recent fights returned. Mitchell to his credit fought back bravely, and it was a great round of back and forth action, one where Katsidis appeared a touch hurt himself at one point. But ultimately, there was too much time on the clock, and Mitchell’s legs never came back to life. Katsidis again trapped Mitchell against the ropes and fired a left hook that forced the ref to step in and save him.
Mitchell didn’t seem to show a glass chin so much as he got caught and never recovered. It wasn’t a bad performance, with the caveat that he got knocked out, and at age 25, there’s no reason to think he can’t bounce back from this.
But that Katsidis. I guess he’s no longer going to amuse us with grueling Fight of the Year-caliber wars, as it’s no longer the annual occurrence it once was, and instead for one night, amused us with a bit of cleverness and a strong finish on Mitchell’s home U.K. turf. I can’t think of one lightweight I don’t want him to fight. Maybe he should be first in line for the winner of the rematch between lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz. Marquez dropped his belt rather than face Katsidis, and Katsidis lost a hard-fought decision to Diaz once. (Apparently the WBO is ordering the winner of Marquez-Diaz II to fight Katsidis. I thought Marquez had relinquished his belt because he said he didn’t want to fight Marquez back in January, but OK — they didn’t take it away from him, after all. Belt politics: You suck.)
Other results (the first two plus Friday Night Fights I saw with my own eyes, the rest not so much — for that, I credit BoxingScene):
- In Poland Saturday, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk knocked out Giacobbe Fragomeni to strengthen his spot as the #2 man at cruiserweight and maybe make a case for overtaking #1 man Steve Cunningham. The taller Wlodarczyk controlled the fight throughout with his jab and periodic body shots, and the Italian, Fragomeni, never threw enough to get in the Pole’s space. Wlodardzyk scored a knockdown at the end of the 6th with a right hook, and the only round Fragomeni might have won is the next, when he came out with purpose. But in the 8th, even though he was fighting back, he was getting crushed, and after a knockdown he wasn’t on steady feet, so the fight was stopped. I’d love to have Cunningham-Wlodarczyk for the vacant Ring championship, but I fear Cunningham signing with a German promoter is setting him up for a Marco Huck rematch instead.
- On ShoBox Friday, junior middleweight Sergiy Dzinziruk had no trouble with Daniel Dawson, stopping him in the 10th round. Dzinziruk is talented, no doubt, but it was maddening the way he relied almost entirely on one punch, his admittedly beautiful jab, to control the fight. OK, so maybe he doesn’t have much power and that’s a sensible strategy, but fighters with styles this monotonous aren’t going to win me over with that junk. I like boxing, not watching a metronome. That jab so tenderized Dawson that by the 10th his head was bouncing back as though from power punches, so the referee was wise to halt the bout. Dzinziruk might be a real player in the division, but I really don’t want him to be unless he figures out a way to throw other punches from time to time.
- There were a few noteworthy fights in Mexico over the weekend. Most of the results weren’t surprising, but featherweight Cristobal Cruz’ split decision loss to Orlando Salido was mildly so — sure, I scored the first fight for Salido, but Cruz beat Jorge Solis recently, and Salido doesn’t have the resume of Solis. So Cruz’ torrid streak ends, sadly. On Top Rank Live, lightweight Humberto Soto made his soft title defense with a unanimous decision win — will he take that fight Anthony Peterson now, his mandatory challenger, or take YET ANOTHER low-risk bout? — and junior featherweight prospect Robert Marroquin won by 2nd round knockout, while on Telemundo, junior featherweight prospect Jesus Ruiz had a rougher time in a unanimous decision win.
- For the rest of this, we’ll break it down by veterans and prospects. On Friday Night Fights, junior welterweight Julio Diaz showed signs of life in a unanimous decision over Herman Ngoudjo with intelligent movement, pretty good defense and effective aggression. It wasn’t another one of several recent “Wow, Diaz is headed toward ‘shot'” performances. I doubt those signs of life amount to much in the long-term, but it does ensure he get the chance to fight for another paycheck. Junior bantamweight Omar Narvaez, featherweight Jhonny Gonzalez and lightweight Breidis Prescott were amongst the vets winning fights this weekend, but heavyweight Danny Williams and ancient Hector Camacho Sr. lost their bouts. Hang ’em up, “Macho.”
- All the prospects who fought this weekend — middleweight Daniel Jacobs, super middleweight James DeGale, lightweight Adrien Broner, junior welterweight Frankie Gavin, etc. — won, except heavyweight Tor Hamer, who lost a split decision. It’s not that weird for a prospect to suffer a loss early in his career, but Hamer’s had too many shaky wins for someone fighting the level of competition he’s facing, so this has to be a concern.