Lee Groves

10: Juan Manuel Marquez’s best fights

4. November 27, 2010 – KO 9 Michael Katsidis, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

At age 37, Marquez was the oldest man to defend a lightweight title and he looked to extend his mark against a tough-as-titanium Australian who was fighting for something beyond himself.

Forty days earlier Katsidis’ older brother Stathi, an accomplished jockey, was found dead in his home. Reviving memories of Buster Douglas’ tribute for his recently deceased mother by beating Mike Tyson, Katisidis declared that he and the spirit of his sibling would fight together in order to dethrone Marquez. Being seven years younger, Katsidis had the chronology and style to reveal the truth about whether Marquez had slowed a step, as was suggested after his rematch victory over Juan Diaz four months earlier.

Both men landed solid, clean punches from long range in the first round but Katsidis closed the gap in round two and bulled Marquez toward the ropes. The champion countered smartly and sharply, landing more punches against Katsidis (48) than any other fighter tracked by CompuBox to that point.

With Marquez seemingly in cruise control, Katsidis’ short hook shockingly dropped Marquez 47 seconds into the third. Fueled by ambition and inspiration, Katsidis tore into Marquez but the supremely conditioned champion quickly regained his bearings and nailed the challenger with crisp counters. The result was a thrilling exhibition of violence, passion and resourcefulness and by the end of the round Marquez had regained control.

Katsidis imposed phone-booth warfare in the fifth and sixth but Marquez answered with supreme ring science. He backed up just enough to establish punching room, then pelted Katsidis with exquisite counters, especially to the body. The seventh was a stupendous action round as Katsidis unloaded 119 punches, landing 38 while Marquez topped him with 44 connects, 55 percent overall accuracy and 61 percent power precision. The physical and emotional demands continued to mount in the eighth, and it was inevitable that one man had to crack under the pressure.

That man proved to be Katsidis, for after Marquez landed a 14-punch volley the energy and vitality that propelled him to this point suddenly drained from him. His mouth hung open, his hands dropped to his sides and he no longer fired back with the same gusto. Seeing this, Marquez pushed all of his chips to the center of the table and dared Katsidis to do the same. When referee Kenny Bayless recognized Katsidis had no more to give, he stepped in and halted the proceedings at the 2:14 mark. It was a most humane stoppage to a fight that had, to this point, been waged at a most inhuman pace.

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