What happened last Saturday night with Joel Casamayor stopping Michael Katsidis in round 10 is what really makes boxing such a great sport. Truly the theatre of the unexpected at times.
What Casamayor did to Katsidis was unexpected because we thought he was over the hill, finished as a top tier fighter. He certainly looked that way in his fight prior to this one, an unjust decision he received against Jose Santa Cruz. Casamayor has also been fighting for nearly 20 years if you count his long and tremendously successful amateur career that landed him Olympic Gold way back in 1992.
This result was also unexpected because Katsisdis came into this fight unbeaten and he looked relentless in his fight prior to this one. Katsidis started this fight swarming as well but it did not take long for Joel to expose Michael’s numerous defensive liabilities as he put Katsidis down not once but twice in the first round with his great straight left off the southpaw style. These two first round knockdowns would serve as an omen of what was to come later.
I felt going into this fight that the non-stop swarming style of Katsidis would wear down Casamayor and eventually lead to him being stopped in the later rounds. And you know after a horrible round one that scenario started to play itself out. Katsidid did a nice job of staying on top of Casamayor and hitting him hard wherever he could, body, arms and head. It was working and in round six it looked like it might make the 27-year old a new world champion as he knocked Casamayor out of the ring in Cabazon, California. Casamayor showed his tremendous Cuban heart as he gathered himself, re-entered the ring and used his ring savvy and guile to get through the remainder of the round. One of Joel’s great attributes is his recuperative abilities and they really came into play in this fight for him to survive round six.
Katsidis continued to apply the pressure in rounds 7 thru 9, but one thing he got away from a bit was the body work that had hurt Casamayor at times early on. Katsidis began to really load up on shots going for the homerun and in round ten he came out swinging wildly for the fences. It proved to be a fatal mistake and one that cost him a World Lightweight Championship.
Katsidis is so much fun to watch because he appears to throw caution to the wind when he is fighting, you can get away with that against lesser fighters, but not against a future Hall of Famer like Casamayor. Katsidis, in his attempt to land the coup de gras, exposed his chin high in the air and Casamayor landed a rarely used left hook and it was all she wrote. You can make an argument that the fight should have continued, but if you noticed Katsidis was not barking about it, he was too busy trying to figure out what happened.
You know, you have to love Joel Casamayor, as you can make a case that he has not been beaten in the last twelve or more years. Since he turned pro in 1996, he has suffered only three blemishes in his career, all decision losses to Acelino Freitas in 2002 and in 2004 he was out pointed by the late Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. All three were former world champs and all three fights could have gone the way of Casamayor. Twelve years, only three close losses, all to world champs, yes this guy from Guantanomo in Cuba definitely deserves to be enshrined in Canastota at his career’s end.
We all thought that was now, but apparently he has other ideas. I found it cute and slick that even after the fight, Casamayor showed his tremendous experience as he was about to be interviewed by an interpreter hired by HBO, Casamayor pretended he could not understand him and he answered only questions interpreted by his longtime manager, interpreter and friend Luis De Cubas.
I am happy for Joel and more than once he has wandered into the Fighters Paradise Gym (where he trains when in Vegas) on a Saturday morning to say hello to me while I worked up a sweat all by my lonesome. He has always been good to me and showed me and others in the sport respect. Well I guess he can now face another 36-year old lightweight living in Florida who upset a youngster recently. How about Joel Casamayor and Nate Campbell before the two are put out to pasture by someone else? They deserve a nice payday against each other don’t ya think.