Word to the wise:
Never stay up past midnight to watch boxing when you’ve gotta’ be up for work at 5:30 in the morning.
Unfortunately for me, that’s just what I did last night; in fact I was so committed to seeing the action that I ended up watching the Spanish version of the telecast.
Oh well, at least the fight was good; commentary was fun too, even if I didn’t understand it.
Getting to the point, Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis was an intriguing, if not somewhat predictable matchup.
Marquez, despite his fairly recent climb in weight, has built up an incredible reputation for being a supremely talented boxer-puncher, with quite possibly the greatest capacity for making mid-fight adjustments of any fighter on the planet.
Despite an almost guaranteed tendency to get dropped at some point in most of his fights against A-level opposition, the man has a solid chin and has recently begun to favor mixing it up rather than stepping out of range as he used to in his youth.
Katsidis, coming off a brutal steamrolling of British prospect Kevin Mitchell, is the prototypical brawling infighter, complete with the requisite lack of head movement and elusiveness.
He telegraphs his shots like fuckin’ Samuel Morse, but just ’cause you can see the punches coming, doesn’t necessarily mean you can always avoid them.
Possessed of a solid punch, he has the power and physicality to overwhelm lesser fighters in the earlier rounds with his sometimes overly aggressive/energetic style, regardless of the significant drain on his stamina in the later rounds.
Though he’s been humbled by fighters with superior boxing skills in the past, his tenacity and rough fighting style are usually enough to give his opponents fits, particularly if their footwork isn’t sharp enough to keep him at distance.
You put all those factors I just listed for both fighters together, and the result of the fight is as elementary as 2+2 = 4.
I went to school.
I know numbers n’shit…
Anyway, as you may have guessed by now, the fight went a little something like this:
Katsidis came out swinging in the early rounds.
Marquez got dropped pretty solidly in the 3rd, moreso than probably either of the Pacquiao fights, only to battle back and survive the round.
Katsidis bullied Marquez for several rounds thereafter, controlling the flow of the fight, but absorbing a lot of shots for his troubles.
Eventually Katsidis began to slow sometime after the 6th round, putting the momentum of the fight firmly in Marquez’s hands.
In the 9th round, (the same round that Marquez previously stopped Juan Diaz in their first encounter) Marquez opened up with some savage combinations, staggering Katsidis and rendering his legs into wet fettuccine.
After a full minute of awkwardly stumbling about the ring, not throwing punches, nor really taking any, referee Kenny Bayless called an awkward end to the contest, citing Katsidis’ inability to continue as his reasoning for doing so.
Just about every point I listed above could’ve been determined about this matchup without ever having seen the fight.
Well, everything except the goofy ending.
Honestly, I found myself feeling that Katsidis, upon first being hobbled, was ready to go.
He was out on his feet for a minute or so, and the stoppage was indeed warranted given his inherent helplessness, however the timing of the stoppage was just plain awkward.
I like Kenny Bayless.
I’ve always joked that he’s the most passionate ref on the planet, screaming the count and seemingly brought to tears every time a fighter goes down in his ring; but in this case he waited far too long to call the fight.
A minute is a long time to be on queer street, but it’s also a long time for a professional brawler like Katsidis to recover.
In fact, if memory serves, I seem to recall Katsidis being in the process of throwing his first punch in over a minute at the time of the stoppage.
Like I said, perfectly legitimate stoppage, but horribly timed nonetheless.
*Ahem!* Anyway, let’s discuss some the technical elements of the fight, shall we?
Katsidis, while one-dimensional in many regards, demonstrated some truly effective infighting skills in this fight.
That’s saying a lot when faced with one of the craftier and more intelligent ring technicians of our generation.
His short hooks were fine tuned and razor sharp, perfectly befitting of his phonebooth fighting style.
Hell, if he hadn’t gone all in with his bullying tactics, and ate twice as many punches as he gave, I felt he could’ve eked out a slim decision from the judges.
Despite this, the Australian remains too predictable and open to counters to prove a significant threat to any of the elite fighters at Lightweight.
Like Arturo Gatti before him, he’s an entertaining TV fighter that will never be starved for opponents on HBO given his balls-out approach to fighting, however he’s barely a step above gatekeeper in terms of overall ability.
He’ll probably, quite literally, be bled dry by the sport and it’s unscrupulous promoters inside of 5 years.
Moving on to Marquez, the Mexican technician still remains at the top of his game despite being 37 years of age.
While Marquez put on a terrific performance in this outing, like the previous Pacquiao fight, he did so while absorbing a great deal of punishment, however intelligently.
While I wouldn’t call the nasty down that Marquez took in the 3rd to be a sign of a chink in his armor, I did find it alarming how shaken he was by it.
My roommate used to say:
“It’s a Marquez fight. He isn’t even awake until he gets knocked down once or twice.”
While I find that to be true in most cases, (and hilarious) usually when the mighty Mexican gets floored, he comes back and trades with his opponent like he’s trying to make score a 9-10 for the round.
This time though, despite what others may say; I think Marquez got rocked pretty good.
The shot he took was a counter left hook on the point of the chin, and despite whatever degree of machismo he may have flowing through his veins, his legs couldn’t hide how frazzled he really was.
In either case, at 37 he’s still not looking old, even if he kisses canvas in most of his fights.
Enough about the down, let’s get back to the technical stuff:
As is always the case with Marquez, the finest elements of his game were his most subtle.
For instance, while fighters with better footwork most likely would’ve circled to avoid Katsidis’ infighting, Marquez stood toe to toe with him and traded, albeit in an intelligent manner.
Bowing at the waist, and placing his head out in front of himself, Marquez effectively crowded Katsidis’ punches, forcing him to reach around Marquez and taking a little something off of the impact.
Though Marquez would eat solid shots on his temples all night, his courage and toughness allowed him to remain focus amid the whirlwind of blows coming at him.
Another neat little element of Marquez’s performance, was his constant use of the jab.
In the early rounds, the jab was largely ineffectual; something that most of us could’ve predicted given Katsidis’ inherent toughness and propensity for rushing out the gate.
As the fight wore on though, Marquez’s jab started landing more often, and with more authority.
Much like what I said of Katsidis earlier, just because something is predictable, doesn’t mean the other guy is going to be able to avoid it every time.
More importantly though, the jab was serving the dual purpose of causing Katsidis to “reset,” and even stand him up when it landed particularly cleanly.
What I mean by “reset,” is that Katsidis displayed a habit of mechanically switching from offense to defense whenever Marquez would circle or step out of range.
Boxing is a combative sport wherein the main objective is to hit without getting hit.
The finest of boxers are the one’s that display a capacity to do both at the same time, seamlessly.
Katsidis is a fighter that shifts gears from offense to defense in a very visible manner, such that intelligent fighters like Marquez are able to capitalize on the transition period with well timed offensive flurries.
Needless to say, during the instances when Katsidis was clearly not in “fighting mode,” Marquez’s constant, and seemingly half-hearted jab, would suddenly spring to life and turn into a piston-like combination starter.
Anyway, I’m writing all of this from cloudy memories of last night, so I think I’ve just about run out of stuff to say.
For those that didn’t catch this one, I’d suggest finding a way to sit down and watch it, ’cause it really was a competitive and exciting bout, despite whatever I may have said about it.
In any case, see yah’ tomorrow!