Michael “The Great” Katsidis may be the only non-Latino on the fight card but nobody more deserving belongs the way this Aussie approaches boxing. Every fight is pure warfare with no quarter given.
“I love those kind of fights,” Katsidis (24-2, 20 KOs) says.
Expect pure violence in a division considered the toughest in professional boxing on Saturday, April 4 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The main fight card will be televised on HBO pay-per-view.
It’s a sure thing whenever Katsidis steps in the ring that full blown punches will be flying like a Texas tornado. Blood and bruises are trademarks of the likeable Aussie whose best performance came a year ago against Joel Casamayor.
People still talk about that fight that saw Casamayor get knocked out of the ring, yet come back to stop Katsidis in the 10th round. After the fight both smiled and hugged as if they were long lost brothers.
“That’s what I aim for. I want people to remember my fights,” said Katsidis, who trained in Thailand, Australia and California. “It’s what made me famous.”
Katsidis has picked up another heavy task with former lightweight titleholder Jesus “El Matador” Chavez. The bull-necked Texan wanted this fight badly.
“I wanted to fight Michael Katsidis,” said Chavez (44-4, 30 KOs), who lost his title when he was unable to continue with a bad knee two years ago. “He and I talked about it and I’m glad he remembered and kept his word.”
That’s Katsidis and Chavez. They fear nothing inside the ring.
Chavez and Katsidis foresee their fight making the others pale in comparison.
“Styles make fights and both of our styles got fireworks written all over it,” says Chavez who has fought two of the other lightweights on the same card.
Famoso Hernandez vs. Vicente Escobedo
One of those former opponents was Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, who was set to clash with Argentina’s roughneck Jorge Barrios. But an injury scrapped that fight and now Hernandez is paired with a totally different style in former Olympian Vicente Escobedo.
“I’m fighting a much tougher opponent in Vicente Escobedo because now I’m fighting a young, hungry fighter who has a tremendous corner,” said Hernandez (43-7-1, 24 KOs) who is several inches shorter than Escobedo too. “I just have to train harder.”
Escobedo is coming off a knockout win over Southern California’s speedy Dominic Salcido who was winning on the scorecards until a couple of well placed left hooks ended the fight.
“Carlos Hernandez is a former champion, a great fighter,” said Escobedo (19-1, 12 KOs) from his training camp in Mexico City. “I remember watching him fight.”
Edwin Valero vs. Antonio Pitalua
Another fight that many boxing fans are eager to watch is undefeated Edwin Valero, who vacated his WBA junior lightweight world title to move up and try for the vacant WBC lightweight title.
“I’m a natural 135-pounder,” said Valero, who was forced to fight outside of the United States after it was discovered he had suffered a serious head injury years earlier and failed to disclose it. “I had to sacrifice my strength to fight at 130. Now I’m much stronger and much faster.”
It’s a scary scenario. Valero has 24 knockouts in 24 fights. Only one fighter, Panama’s Vicente Mosquera , nearly reached a decision but was disposed of in the 10th round.
For weeks Valero sparred with tall and talented Josesito Lopez, a nearly six-feet tall 135-pounder with long arms, decent speed and power. But Valero seems to have all of those qualities plus more.
“He’s a monster,” said Henry Ramirez who trains Lopez and heavyweight prospect Chris Arreola. “He’s in another world.”
Two other sparring partners were promptly decked multiple times. One fighter lay senseless on the ropes from a single punch by the Venezuelan fighter.
Valero’s opponent Antonio Pitalua is also a knockout artist.
“He’s too slow for me,” says Valero, 27. “I’m not saying he’s not good, but he’s not in my category.”
Roberto Alcazar who formerly worked with Oscar De La Hoya for many years now trains Valero. Now he has another razor sharp pupil.
“He’s a tremendous fighter,” said Alcazar, who has made slight adjustments in Valero’s approach. “He has all of the tools.”
Pitalua (46-3, 40 KOs), who recently became a Mexican citizen, predicts that Valero is overlooking him. The lanky 39-year-old hasn’t lost a fight in eight years.
“He’s not going to stop my dream of being a world champion,” said Pitalua. “I fought most of my career in Mexico. Edwin knows what Mexican fighters bring to the table and I’ve fought all tough fighters.”
Valero merely shrugs.
“He’s a good fighter but I know my capacity,” Valero says. “On the night of the fight he’s going to fall.”
Another fight that fell through was Julio Diaz (36-4, 26 KOs) versus Joel Casamayor. The Cuban fighter suffered an injury and has been replaced by lightweight Rolando Reyes (30-4-2, 19 KOs). Diaz still wants the fight.
“You can’t lose focus,” said Joel Diaz, who trains his brother Julio Diaz. “Everybody is dangerous in the ring.”
Especially on this fight card.