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Marquez-Katsidis could be a holiday classic

Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone

It’s unusual for a major fight to fall on a Thanksgiving weekend, but in the case of Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs) and Michael Katsidis (27-2, 22 KOs), Saturday’s clash could serve as the perfect after Thanksgiving dinner treat – and you won’t have to pay anything for it.

When Juan Manuel Marquez and Michael Katsidis clash at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on November 27th on HBO for Marquez’ WBA and WBO lightweight titles, many are anticipating what could be a potential fight of the year candidate. Katsidis’ all out action style and Marquez boxing brilliance should set off fireworks in the ring. It’s a fight that could be a huge momentum builder for two fighters seeking bigger fights in 2011. For Marquez, the ever looming opportunity to face Manny Pacquiao for a third time is always the golden carrot. As for Katsidis, since dropping back to back fights to Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, the Aussie has reeled off four victories in a row and is out to prove that he is able to defeat boxing’s elite.

It’s a fight that almost didn’t happen however.

Last month, Katsidis was dealt a crushing blow when he learned that his brother Stathi was found dead in his home in Brisbane. Katsidis could have pulled out of the bout, but felt that his brother would have wanted him to move forward with the biggest fight of his life.

“It was one tough camp and a lot of people know that there has been a fair bit of speculation (if I would fight) after my brother’s death,” Katsidis told the media at a press conference following his arrival. “It was tough and as everyone knows, nothing is ever easy. We’ve endured to some tough times and we’re here to win.”

Katsidis’ trainer Brendan Smith echoed his fighter’s sentiments and was quite definitive when explaining what the goal on Saturday night was going to be come Saturday night.

“The goal was to become the super champion and outright king of the lightweight division. On Saturday we get that opportunity,” Smith stated. “We’re here to win and win only.”

Already a lock for the hall of fame, Juan Manuel Marquez faces a stiff test on Saturday night. Although Katsidis has lost to two fighters that Marquez has toppled (Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz), “Dinamita” certainly can’t look past his opponent who is fighting for more than just a world title.

“First of all, I really applaud Michael Katsidis character for his bravery in fighting after the death of his brother. I have the greatest respect for him and wish the best for his family,” Marquez said at the podium. “Everyone knows Katsidis is a strong fighter and a warrior. However, I have prepared myself hard for this type of fighter. I don’t have to say any more. I’m ready to give a great fight to all of the people.”

Marquez Vs Katsidis takes place live on HBO starting at 9:45pm EST/6:45pm PST.


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