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Michael The Great-Michael Katsidis story


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One of the greatest warriors in this century, Michael Katsidis epitomized the very word of the ring warrior and was a guy who never took a backwards step in a fight. Sadly, his peak was short and his career unraveled in a rather drastic manner, leading him to retire with 8 losses. Early on, he seemed to possess enough talent and ferocity to become a new great Aussie fighter, in the vein of Jeff Fenech but with more punching power. Katsidis could hit equally well with both hands, was as tough as they came, fast on his feet, however-his defense could've been better and he had a tendency to cut. The problem is also that he got matched against some opponents that were totally wrong for him and his style, such as Joel Casamayor and Juan Manuel Marquez-still, he managed to knock them both down and especially against Casamayor he did well for large portions of the fight, which says something about his ability. He unfortunately never won a full version of a world title, but held the interim WBO light title twice. Here is the story of Michael Katisidis-The Great Aussie Warrior.

 

As his last name alludes, Katsidis was born into a Greek immigrant family, hailing from Greek Macedonia, in the north of the country. He was born on 15 August 1980 in Toowomba, where he also grew up and still resides. His older brother Stathi was a famous jockey. Because of his heritage, Katsidis always went into the ring wearing a Corinthian helmet and he had the Macedonian ancient sun symbol tattooed on his back. He first started boxing as amateur at 11, representing Australia at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, his homeland. He won the first fight clearly on points, before losing the second one 7-9. He finished the amateur career with a record of 75-6. He made his pro debut on 1 December 2001 at home in Toowomba, winning by KO3 against Danny Wilson. In his 9th fight, he won the Australian super light title by UD10 against Fred Kinuthia. He vacated it to return to lightweight, and then won the vacant WBO Asian Pacific title there bu a KO1 against Yuttapong Srisai. In August 2005, he stopped Ranee Ganoy by TKO5 in a defense of that title-Ganoy would later go on to end the career of Katsidis' compatriot Robbie Peden by knockout. He kept winning and racked up a record of 21-0 with 19 ko's, before finally receiving a chance to win the interim WBO title against Graham Earl of England. He had to go to Wembley and fight Earl on 17 February 2007 and it was an unforgettable fight; after dropping Earl down twice in the opening round and again once in the second, it looked like an easy win was about to happen. However, after making the count, Earl stunned Katsidis and made him take a standing eight-count. Katsidis recovered and reassessed himself in the next round and the fight was stopped after the fifth, because of a bad cut over Earl's left eye. It became one of those fights that were a part of the English boxing folklore, as Earl looked completely finished before he almost turned the fight around. That fight exposed Katsidis' defensive issues. On 21 July that year, he defended his title for the first time against Filipino Czar Amonsot, a tough and cagey fighter. After Katsidis had him down in the second, Amonsot adopted a different approach, fighting off his jab, and that made him survive till the final bell, despite again being down in the tenth. Katsidis on the other hand suffered a bad cut, partly from punches and partly from headbutts, but he went on to win by a surprisingly close unanimous decision. This fight was his first in USA, as it took place at Mandalay Bay.

 

And then came the fight which would affect his career somewhat and expose his defensive issues once more: the Joel Casamayor fight. It happened 22 March 2008 at Morongo Casino & Spa in Cabazon, California. Casamayor surprised Katisidis with a quick straight left which put him down for a flash knockdown in the first round. Shortly after he rose, he was once again down from the same kind of punch. He came into the fight during the third round and in the fourth he had Casamayor hurt and wobbled with a left-right combination. It said something about his power, since Casamayor had had three fights against Diego Corrales and didn't get stopped and was only dropped once. In the sixth, Katsidis first hurt Casamayor with a left hook to the body and then followed it up with a right and a left to the head, which sent the Cuban thru the ropes. Casamayor's defensive skills and toughness made him weather the storm however and he came back in the ninth round and scored some good punches. Entering round ten, two judges had Katsidis up by a point and the third had Casamayor up by three points. It was then that the young Aussie made a typical error-he went charging right at the experienced Casamayor, who then hit him right on the button with a left that almost looked like a bolo punch and put him down. He was hurt badly. Despite making the count, he was unable to defend himself and after a short onslaught by the Cuban, the fight was stopped, 30 seconds into the round. After this devastating defeat, he made a mistake by signing for another big fight-against Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz. Diaz had just lost his three world titles to Nate Campbell, but was still in his prime when they fought, 6 September in Houston, Diaz's hometown. Katsidis had a hard time coping with the pace and sheer aggression and punch output of Diaz, but he still hung in there and landed his punches, having his best moments in the second half of the fight. In the end, he finished with a badly swollen left eye and lost by a split decision-his second loss in a row. Next year, he returned with a smaller fight against Angel Hugo Ramirez, fighting in Cebu City, Philippines-even though he put Ramirez down three times, he was unable to put him away and won by UD10. On 4 April, he faced Jesus Chavez, who had returned after a 2-year absence; Katsidis dominated a faded Chavez and the fight was stopped by the referee after round seven because Chavez had simply taken too much punishment. Officially, a TKO8-win for Katsidis. He then faced Vicente Escobedo for the vacant WBO interim title, his old one, on 19 September at MGM Grand. It was a true war and a bloody war, as Katsidis once again started bleeding from the first round and even suffered a broken jaw in the last round, but still won enough rounds to be given a split decision victory. Harold Lederman gave it to him by 117-111. He had obviously clearly won, but the damage he had taken must have convinced that one judge to give it to Escobedo.

 

He now had the title back in his hands, but was determined to win the full version of it. Before that could happen, he defended the one he had against promising and hard-hitting young lion, Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell had a record of 31-0 but was known to have problems rising to occasion sometimes. The fight was even at his home ground in Upton Park, West Ham and Mitchell was a passionate West Ham FC fan. But it didn't do much good to him. On 15 May 2010, his home fans had to watch him easily overpowered and stopped in just 3 rounds by the Greek Aussie warrior, who won by TKO after Mitchell was helpless against the ropes. He then pushed for a fight against the full WBO and WBA-champion Juan Manuel Marquez. After a period of waiting, the fight was signed and scheduled for 27 November that year, to take place at MGM Grand. Tragedy struck just a month prior to that when his brother Stathi was found dead in his apartment in Brisbane while Michael was on his training camp in Thailand, 19 October. It therefore was a different Michael Katsidis that went into the ring that night at the MGM Grand. Even though he managed to catch Marquez with a big left hook which put him down in round 3, he was unable to follow it up against the defensively proof Marquez. The counter punching skills of the Mexican soon took over the fight and he eventually stopped Katsidis in round 9 by TKO, after landing several unanswered uppercuts to the head. He then signed to fight the WBA and WBO interim champion Robert Guerrero, 9 April 2011 at MGM Grand. The two were meant to fight in March the previous year, but the fight got cancelled. Katsidis knocked Guerrero down in the second with a cuffing left hook, but the famously-biased referee Russell Mora didn't acknowledge it. Otherwise, Guerrero dominated most of the fight with his technical and defensive ability and won by the scores of 117-108, 118-107 and 118-106. After knocking out the easy opponent Michael Lozada in 3, Katsidis would suffer another defeat-yet this time more controversial one-against Ricky Burns, fighting away in Glasgow on 5 November same year. Katsidis kept charging at Burns, who then used his superior height and reach to tie up Katsidis while leaning against the ropes and then throw one-two counters in return. This tactic did work for Burns, but the fight was still close and competitive and he hardly ever hurt Katsidis. In the end, the scores were unfairly wide for such a passive fight from Burns and a close one as well, as all 3 judges gave him 9 rounds.

 

The rest of his career was simply one big failure. After losing to Albert Mensah by MD10 in April 2012, he had a long-awaited rematch with Graham Earl in July 2014 and won on points this time, winning all rounds on two of the scorecards. 25 October same year, he experienced a humiliating loss against Tommy Coyle, fighting in Coyle's hometown of Hull. In a fight for the IBF International title, Katsidis was cut on the left eyebrow after a head clash in the first round and then dropped in the second before being stopped on his feet shortly thereafter. It was the only time he would be stopped so early. He still didn't retire and came back next year, winning a 6 and an 8-rounder on points. That same year however, he was caught with the possession of an "ice pipe", a methamphetamine tool and was required to undertake drug counselling, but the next year he was again in trouble when he was arrested for driving while high on the same drug. These problems would continue to plague him for the rest of his career, which consisted of 3 fights in 2017. After beating Josh King by UD8 in March, on 25 November he took part in the Super 8 tournament in Australia and after winning one fight by SD, he lost the second one the same way. Luckily, that proved to be his last very fight. He was 37 when he retired, with a record of 33 wins, 24 by ko, and 8 losses, 3 by ko. He is married since 2009 to a Japanese woman and has a daughter. Michael Katsidis was, pretty much like Arturo Gatti or even Ray Mancini, a guy who gave it all in the ring and bled for the sport, and as a consequence didn't have a long prime or a career he perhaps might have had if he had been a different type fighter. He will always be beloved by all true lovers of the bruising sport for the guts and bravado of his fights and was a formidable offensive fighter, despite his flaws. Here's to you Michael Katsidis.

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