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Golden Boy stacks PPV undercard for Marquez-Mayweather

Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Boxing is in dire need of an adrenaline shot.

It’s no secret that the casual fight fan watches pay-per-view fights strictly for the main event. But with the skeptics rifling off that boxing is in a downward spiral and the UFC breathing down the sport’s neck, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions knew that they needed to put together something spectacular to make the $49.95 price tag worth every penny.

Saturday’s fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Juan Manuel Marquez may be the main attraction, but the undercard of that fight has put together some potentially explosive fights that will hopefully breathe life into the sport and give fight fans a reason to be excited.

“This is something that we at Golden Boy are going to do from now on,” Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya said during Thursday’s press conference that focused strictly on Saturday’s undercards. “It’s something that I urged at Golden Boy and Mayweather promotions feels the same way. This is needed to bring back the excitement in not only watching the main event but the entire card.”

In what could quite possibly be the fight of the night, Vicente Escobedo (21-1, 13 KO’s) will face the always-exciting Michael Katsidis (25-2, 21 KO’s) in what many perceive to be a knock down, drag out battle.

For Escobedo, this will be his first shot at a world title. Katsidis currently is the interim WBO lightweight champion but Escobedo is well prepared for this opportunity to fight on the biggest stage of his career thus far.

“Come Saturday night I am extremely happy that you will be seeing a new world champion against a great fighter like Michael Katsidis,” said Escobedo’s trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain via translator.

“It’s an honor to be on a card like this, it’s a dream come true,” Escobedo said. “It’s a huge day for me knowing that this is my first opportunity at a world title. I’ve got a tough fight. Michael Katsidis is a tough fighter. He comes out to fight. It’s going to be an exciting fight (and) I’m ready.”

Michael Katsidis is never one to let you down when it comes to action. His only two losses have come at the hands of Juan Diaz and Joel Casamayor in extremely enthralling fights that had fans on the edge of their seats. Although he is the interim title-holder, Katsidis needs this victory to thrust him into the limelight.

“It’s been a very tough twelve months and we’ve done the work. I am Greek and also Australian so I’ve got a lot of heart. I can guarantee that come Saturday night that this is a world title and I can grow another arm and another leg just to win this fight,” Katsidis said as he cited the importance of his match-up with Escobedo. “This is going to be a night to remember and I’m here to make history.”

The co-feature will be a rematch between WBA featherweight champion Chris John (42-0-2, 22 KO’s) and Rocky Juarez (28-4-1, 20 KO’s) after their exciting battle back in February that ended in a draw.

The casual boxing fan may not be familiar with Indonesia’s Chris John. However, one look at his record and one will notice a victory over Saturday’s participant in the main event, Juan Manuel Marquez. John earned the disputed victory back in March of 2003 in a fight that was not televised in the states. Although he may not be a household name as of yet, a decisive victory over the always game Juarez could make the undefeated John one to watch for.

“This fight is very big for me and I’ve had a good training camp in Big Bear. We have had good sparring partners too. I’m confident in this fight and I want to put on a good show Saturday,” John said.

Juarez has been in the ring with the best of them for world titles and come up short. He lost a close split decision to the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera in May of 2006 and lost another close decision in their rematch four months later. He also was defeated via an extremely close decision to Humberto Soto in 2005 and was dominated by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2007. None of those losses will damage a fighter’s credibility. For the 2000 Olympic silver medallist, his hunger has increased. He could nearly taste the title down the stretch during his February fight with John, but saw the carrot dangled just out of his reach yet again when it was announced as a draw. This time, the fighter from Houston says he will take home the gold.

“This isn’t my first time in a big event like this and this is my 5th opportunity at a world title,” Juarez mentions. “I know that I want to continue to fight in events such as this so I have to win this fight. I’m not putting the pressure on myself. I’ve been here before. This Saturday I’m going to come, leave it all in the ring and become the new world champion.”

With the rest of the undercards featuring prospects such as Erislandy Lara and Orlando Cruz as well as a number of interesting match-ups, Golden Boy and Mayweather hopes to set a precedent on how fight cards are supposed to be done.

“This is one of those pay-per-views where you want to get there early and watch all of the fights. We’re so used to watching and waiting for the main event but that is going to stop. It has to stop,” De La Hoya said, brimming with confidence that he has put on a show for the ages. “This is the first of many to come in the sport.”

The world of boxing surely hopes so.

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