CABAZON, CALIF.—-Cuba’s Joel Casamayor thought it would be easy after flooring Michael Katsidis with the first two left hands he fired, then found himself knocked out of the ring and scrambling to finally stop the Aussie and keep his Ring Magazine lightweight title on Saturday.

Holy Julius Caesar. It was the third great fight in March.

“I’m the God of boxing,” Casamayor (36-3-1, 22 KOs) said boldly.

Though Casamayor floored Katsidis (23-1, 20 KOs) twice with the first lefts he fired, Katsidis rose from the floor and proved before a crowd of more than 1,300 at Morongo Casino Spa Resort that he’s never done until the referee says its over.

“He's a great young warrior,” Casamayor said of Katisidis. “I knew I had to prepare for my best to beat him. It was the most exciting fight I've been in since I fought Diego Corrales the first time.”

It looked like the fight wouldn’t make the second round as Katsidis wobbled around the ring, but the tough Australian toughed it out and turned things around slowly behind relentless pressure.

For three rounds it looked like Casamayor was indeed something from another world, but Katsidis never quit and finally caught the Cuban on the point of the chin. A look of surprise on his face showed a worried look.

“He was in great condition,” said Casamayor. “But I’m the best lightweight in the world.”

Casamayor dropped Katsidis with the first left hand he fired, and then knocked him down again with a swift one-two in the beginning of the first round. Katsidis survived the rest of the round.

Katsidis opened the second round with a stiff right hand that forced Casamayor to hang out. But then the Cuban slickster began popping that left hand and using head butts to damage the Aussie.

There were plenty of head butts by the clever Casamayor and plenty of low blows. But neither fighter complained.

The third round saw Katsidis work the body and head effectively. Casamayor seemed to be taking it easy as the Aussie kept moving forward.

Katsidis turned things around in the fourth round with right hand that turned Casamayor around on his feet. The Aussie attacked the hurt Cuban fighter but was unable to finish him. Both traded blows at the end of the fiery round.

Round five was slower as Casamayor held and head butted his way in survival mode. Katsidis worked the body but not many punches landed.

The big round for Katsidis was in the sixth as a withering left and right sent Casamayor out of the ring. Somehow he managed to beat the count but was met by Katsidis again who battered him until the end of the round. A final right hand at the bell snapped the Cuban’s head. Casamayor had a worried look on his face. According to one judge, Katsidis moved ahead on points.

“As soon as he knocked me down I wanted to get up and fight,” Casamayor said. “All my instincts told me to get up and fight. I'm a warrior too but I haven't had an opportunity to show it.”

Casamayor worked the eighth round carefully by holding and moving and firing pot shots back at his opponent. Katsidis landed some body blows and a right hand at the bell.

Katsidis followed Casamayor around the ring, but when he got in range he fired rights and lefts. A right hand hurt the Cuban fighter near the end of the round but he managed to hold on tight.

Casamayor returned to his smooth boxing form and managed to keep Katsidis from landing the big punch. Both traded counter punches but a low blow forced the referee to deduct a point form the Cuban.

Hoping to swing things back again in his favor, Katsidis eagerly engaged the Cuban and was dropped by a wicked left hand during the exchange. The Aussie managed to get up by using the ropes but his legs were still unsteady. The fight resumed with Casamayor firing a flurry of blows that forced referee Jon Schorle to stop the fight at 30 seconds of round 10.

Casamayor now adds the WBO interim title to his Ring Magazine lightweight title.

“He doesn’t hit hard,” claimed Casamayor who was dazed several times. “I just kept slipping. But I knew that his style and mine together would make a great fight. I needed a fight like this to show the real El Cepillo.”

Katsidis had clawed his way back to actually lead on judge Marty Denkin’s scorecard, but let over anxiousness lead him into a big Cuban left hand.

“I got excited and went for it all at the end and I threw it out the window,” Katsidis said. “I'll be back.”

Casamayor nodded his head when asked if this was his best fight.

“This definitely was the most exciting fight I've been in,” Casamayor said. “Now on to the big fights like Marco Antonio Barrera or Manny Pacquiao. Just big fights.”

Super middleweight elimination

Orange County’s Librado Andrade (27-1, 21 KOs) powered his way back to the number one spot with a strong performance, especially to the body, that quelled Germany’s Stieglitz (31-2, 19 KOs) in their super middleweight showdown.

Andrade worked the uppercut in the first round and was the aggressor as Stieglitz fired an occasional right hand counter.

Stieglitz opened up the second round with a lightning one-two combination that made Andrade’s leg quiver. But the La Habra fighter landed a monstrous right uppercut and followed it up with more. The German fighter bled profusely from the nose but fired back.

Despite a bloody nose Stieglitz rallied with a well-placed right hand. A left to the body by Andrade seemed to take the energy out of the German fighter toward the end of the third round, a close round.

Both fighters engaged in a furious fourth round with Stieglitz landing multiple combinations while Andrade was on the ropes. Then, a big right hand to the body by the Californian hurt Stieglitz, but he fought back with several stifling combinations.

In the fifth round Stieglitz was in control with his jab and combinations. But he ran into a left hook that dazed him and Andrade poured it on at the end of the bell. The German fighter walked slowly back to his corner.

Andrade trapped Stieglitz in the corner in the sixth round and fired away nearly a dozen punches without a response. Body punches by the La Habra fighter seemed to be affecting his opponent who bled again.

The accumulation of body punches by Andrade seemed to slow down Stieglitz in the seventh round. At the end of the three minutes the German fighter seemed unable to fire back.

Stieglitz opened up the eighth round with a stinging combination but was met by Andrade’s left hook. The talented German boxer just couldn’t seem to hurt Andrade. A big right hand turned Stieglitz around and he was chased by Andrade who cornered him and fired about 10 unanswered shots that forced referee Ray Corona to stop the fight at 2:53 of the round. Andrade landed 23 power shots in the last round that ended in a technical knockout.

“I acted like I was going to go to the head, but then I went to the body,” said Andrade who now is the number one contender for the IBF super middleweight title held by Canada’s Lucian Bute. “I’m going back to Canada to train for the world title.”

Other bouts

Australia’s Billy “the Kid” Dib returned to Southern California and scored a split-decision in a tough 10-round featherweight bout over Orange County’s Edgar Vargas.

At first it looked like the greased eel moves of Dib would be too difficult for Vargas, but a concentrated body attack enabled the Californian to catch up. But overall, Dib’s fast punches left a bruised Vargas and the lost by split-decision 95-94 twice for Dibs and 95-94 for Vargas.

Juan Velasquez (7-0, 4 KOs) out-pointed Tomas Bernal (3-6, 2 KOs) in a sloppy four-round featherweight fight. No knockdowns in a fight dominated by the quicker and taller Velasquez.

Carlos Velasquez (7-0, 6 KOs), twin brother of Juan, had his six-fight knockout string broken by rugged Manuel Sanabria of Los Mochis, Mexico. But he won the fight 60-54 twice and 59-55 according to the three judges in a six round featherweight fight.

Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs (4-0, 4 KOs), a standout as an amateur, floored Montana’s Matt Palmer (2-2) twice en route to a knockout victory at 2:23 of the first round.