LAS VEGAS — Hardcore fight fans are split on who will win the lightweight showdown between Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis on the Erik Morales-Marcos Maidana undercard on Saturday.
Few observers are as informed about the bout's participants as Vicente Escobedo, who dropped a 10-round decision to Guerrero last November and lost a 12-round spilt decision to Katsidis in 2009.
Escobedo, who was present for the weigh-in for the "Action Heroes" card on Friday, favors Guerrero.
“I see Guerrero beating him," Escobedo told RingTV.com. "To me, he’s the bigger guy, and he’s a southpaw, which means he can be awkward for Katsidis. Right handers are not used to fighting southpaws. We can have success when we back them up, as I did with Guerrero late in our fight, but that can also play into their hands. Katsidis will press Robert. He has one way of fighting, coming forward. But Katsidis is one-dimensional, and the way Guerrero has been looking, the way he looked at the weigh-in, I don't think his aggression will be enough.
“I think Guerrero is going to throw some tough hard shots, because Katsidis will force him to, and Katsidis will take three to land one punch. Guerrero is going to have to sit there and hold his ground and fight him. I think they’re really going to go at it. They’re going to have to, but I see Guerrero coming out on top."
Escobedo, whose right hand is in a cast due to a tendon injury suffered in his last bout, was awarded a special "title belt" of recognition from the Tecate beer company during Friday's weigh-in.
Tecate, the lead sponsor for Telefutura's Solo Boxeo series, holds a viewer poll for the fighter who shows the most character during the Spanish-language boxing telecasts. Fans, who vote via text message and online during the broadcasts, were impressed with Escobedo's 10-round decision over tough Walter Estrada on March 4. The California-based fringe contender recieved the most votes of any fighter this year, 89 percent.
“The award was a big surprise," Escobedo said. "I thought I was just here for an appearance to say hi to the fans and do a few interviews with the media. It means a lot to me, because those votes are from real fans."
Imagine how high his percentage would have been had they known he hurt his right hand, which produced a knockdown in the eighth round, early in the fight against Estrada.
Escobedo says he's got to wear the cast for six weeks and then go six weeks without contact, but he'll return to the gym as soon as he's able to. His goal is to fight for a junior lightweight title by the end of the year. His fights against Guerrero and Katsidis took place at lightweight.
“I was in the wrong weight class adn those fights made me realize it," he said. "I got in the ring with them and they were much bigger than me. They muscled me around. At 130 pounds, I’ll fight any of the champions. I feel that this is my weight class and this is my year.”