FIGHT OF THE YEAR VOTING RESULTS
Juan Manuel Marquez TKO 9 Michael Katsidis: 48 percent
Today's poll: Fighter of the Year. Vote at Yahoo! Sports by going to this link
Anyone who understood anything about how styles mesh in the ring knew that Juan Manuel Marquez’s lightweight title defense against Michael Katsidis would be fun while it lasted.
Marquez has been one of boxing’s more reliable world-class action fighters since a controversial decision loss to Chris John in Indonesia in 2005 convinced him to change his calculating counter-punching style to that of a combination-throwing technician. Katsidis, the No. 1 contender for Marquez’s RING title, only fights one way: full-tilt and straight ahead.
And yet the battle the two lightweight warriors put forth on Nov. 27 in Las Vegas exceeded expectations. Marquez, who at 37 is the oldest fighter ever to hold any version of the lightweight title, stopped Katsidis in the ninth round of their thriller but he had to get up from a third-round knockdown and withstand a frightful amount of power punches from his relentless challenger to retain his RING belt.
What was expected to be an entertaining blowout in favor of the Mexican veteran turned into a marvelous shootout that outshined numerous late-in-the-year barnburners, including the dramatic 12-round battle between Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana, which received the second highest number of votes in the 2010 Ring Fan Poll Fight of the Year.
However, Marquez-Katsidis soundly took the honor — and for good reason. The bout featured furious exchanges from beginning to end. The hard knockdown Katsidis scored with a picture-perfect left hook in the third round injected instant drama into the bout and sparked fireworks from the mid-way point to the bell. The action intensified as the bout progressed. Katsidis, inspired by the recent death of his brother, pressed Marquez for three minutes of every round, but he learned that the future hall-of-fame inductee was more than willing to trade serious leather in the trenches.
Marquez was forced back on his heels for most of the bout but he fought brilliantly backing up and while on the ropes. The end came at 2:14 of the ninth round after a series of uppercuts discombobulated the proud challenger, who managed to stay on his feet through sheer will but was mercifully rescued from further punishment by referee Kenny Bayless.
How intense was the action between Marquez and Katsidis? Consider this fascinating punch-stat comparison: Marquez threw and landed more punches (327 of 628) against Katsidis in less than nine rounds of action than Khan threw and landed (273 of 603) against Maidana over 12, according to CompuBox.
If that doesn’t impress you, consider that Marquez was that active against a bigger, stronger, younger fighter whose relentless attack would have overwhelmed most lightweights.
Katsidis, who applied suffocating pressure, landed 194 of 630 total punches for a respectable 31-percent connect ratio. The 30-year-old contender connected with 155 of the 484 power punches he launched at Marquez with bad intentions. Only Juan Diaz has hit the three-division champ with more power punches (161), according to Marquez’s previous 19 CompuBox-tracked fights. And that total was landed before Diaz was stopped in the ninth round of the 2009 Fight of the Year.
Still not impressed by Marquez’s effort against Katsidis? Consider his sublime precision. The tenacious technician, who landed textbook three- and four-punch body-head combinations almost every time he let his hands go, connected with 52 percent of his total punches and an incredible 63 percent of his power shots. Khan, a skilled young boxer who is considered to be one of the brightest talents in the sport, was only able to land 45 percent of his total punches and 53 percent of his power shots against Maidana, who has a similar hard-charging style to Katsidis.
If you’re still not amazed by what Marquez accomplished against Katsidis, keep this in mind: Khan was seven years old when Marquez turned pro in 1993.
Somehow, after 17½ years of professional boxing and a number of punishing fights in recent years — including his grueling split-decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2008, the Fight of the Year brawl with Diaz and the 12-round drubbing he took from Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September — the boxing master from Mexico City is still able to summon the heart and resolve to battle tooth and nail during every minute of every round against a take-no-prisoners punisher such as Katsidis.
How does Marquez do it?
Let’s just appreciate him and courageous warriors such as Katsidis while we can. Most action fighters don’t last as long as the lightweight champ has, and fights like Marquez-Katsidis don’t happen very often.