When Michael Katsidis dropped and dazed Juan Manuel Marquez last night, he had two minutes remaining in round three to realize his goal of honoring his late brother’s memory with a championship win. But Katsidis’ amazing will would not be enough to overcome a resilient Marquez, who rebounded with precision counter-punching to score a ninth-round stoppage.
The third round opening happened because Katsidis had finally abandoned a foolhardy attempt to box with Marquez. The Australian was peppered with laser-like lefts to the body and uppercuts in route to landing 46 power shots. Katsidis began to pressure Marquez up-close, and shot home a whipping, short left hook. Marquez fell flat on his back, and rose into a barrage of hooks from Katsidis. Marquez had experienced this danger many times, and maintained his cool in rolling with the blows and firing back with 3-4 punch combinations capped with left and right uppercuts.
Michael Katsidis’ window for victory was effectively closed in the next round. Marquez, now wary of the left hook, kept his right high whenever he worked on offense. With Katsidis’ best weapon now taken away, much of his attacks were stifled and awkward compared to Marquez’s short and quick shots on the inside. In round five, Marquez was excellent off the backfoot with hooks to the body. The last 20 seconds featured the Mexican champion scoring accurately with a flurry of punches to close out.
The pattern of Michael Katsidis bullying through Marquez’s best continued until the deciding round nine. A jarring Marquez left uppercut and hook finally hurt Katsidis, who finally went into retreat. Marquez offered no reprieve, and followed up with two combinations punctuated by a right hook and uppercut. Katsidis’ attempts to clinch only gave him more punishment courtesy of more Marquez uppercuts from both hands. With :46 seconds remaining, referee Kenny Bayless halted the bout following another clean Marquez right hand to the head.
Juan Manuel Marquez retained his lightweight crown, but made it clear his intention is to still get Manny Pacquiao in the ring for a third fight.
“Katsidis is a great fighter, but we know that Pacquiao has been avoiding us,” Marquez said afterward. “We’ve put a lot of work into it, and it’s the fight the public wants to see…We always come in looking for a third fight with Pacquiao.”
Michael Katsidis fell short of the title, but he succeeded in paying tribute to his brother Stahi, who died suddenly of an overdose a little over a month ago. When asked if his brother would have been proud of his effort tonight, an emotional Michael Katsidis sent a message to his departed sibling.
“Stahi, I love you very much, and I’m going to miss you mate,” Katsidis stated while holding back tears. “It was the hardest thing just making it to the fight.”
WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto made an easy defense of his title with a first round KO. Freddy Hernandez tried in the first minute to use his height and establish distance with his jab. But Berto was much too fast, and dropped Hernandez with a looping right hook around his guard. The punch was the fight’s first and only significant blow, causing a stoppage when Hernandez rose on unsteady legs.
In speaking with Larry Merchant, Andre Berto verified that he has ready to face either Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, or Miguel Cotto in his next bout.
Celestino’s Caballero suffered a devastating upset loss to Jason Litzau. Caballero was a 13-1 favorite going into a bout that was supposed to be a showcase fight. Caballero was constantly off-balance and sloppy with his offense. In turn, Jason Litzau remained consistent whenever he threw with landing solid, eye-catching shots. Litzau’s reputation of having a soft chin proved to have no bearing on this bout, as he walked through all of Caballero’s shots. The win is the biggest of Litzau’s career, and ends all hopes Caballero had of getting a featherweight title shot against any of the titleholders (Lopez, Gamboa, John, Rojas).
The watercooler discussion now will be who Manny Pacquiao faces if he can’t get Floyd Mayweather in early 2011. The short list is now Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, and Andre Berto. While Pacquiao would get the most money with Marquez due to their unfinished rivalry, the bout that offers the biggest challenge would likely be Andre Berto.
Marquez was impressive last night, but it doesn’t take away the fact the bout was at 135 pounds. Marquez has still not shown he can still be his sharp counter-punching self above that weight. We saw him look slow and lethargic when he came in at 142 against Floyd Mayweather last year.
Shane Mosley looked bad in his last fight with Mora, and was shut out against Mayweather in May. Fighting Mosley now comes off like Pacquiao feasting on Mayweather leftovers. Mosley should at least get a solid showing under his belt to make this fight feasible.
That leaves Andre Berto, who is unproven but represents several things we haven’t seen in recent Pacquiao opponents. He is young, athletic, has power, and doesn’t have any mileage from a recent brutal loss.
Unfortunately for Berto, unlike Pacquiao’s recent opponents, he doesn’t have much of a drawing name. So, the likelihood is that Pacquiao will face either Marquez or Mosley if Mayweather fails to come to the table.