By Anthony Cocks
Michael Katsidis is a name that hasn’t been heard in boxing circles for awhile. But it wasn’t that long ago that the 36 year-old Toowoomba, Queensland native was must-see TV, regularly fighting through blood and cuts and fatigue, proud testimony to his Spartan heritage, on HBO Boxing After Dark and pay-per-view telecasts.
Last month Katsidis returned to the ring for the first time in two years with an eight round unanimous decision victory over fellow Queenslander Josh King 20-5 (9). The 31 year-old Townsville native was returning to the ring in his first bout since losing a competitive fight by TKO 11 to reigning WBA junior welterweight champion Ricky Burns in Liverpool, UK in November 2015.
Katsidis had never lost to another Australian or on Australian soil, and this didn’t change against King. Showing few signs of ring rust, Katsidis mixed power shots with clever boxing to dominate the fight and get the judges’ nod with scores of 78-73, 78-74 and 79-72 at the end of eight rounds.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” said Katsidis, 32-7 (24), who is back with his original trainer Brendon Smith. “With another month in preparation we believe I would have knocked my opponent clean out. However, Josh was very well prepared for this fight with so much at stake.
“The risk of winning it all or losing it all in just one fight is one of the things I love about boxing that makes it so exciting. I’ve been out of the ring for long enough so each and every round I had did a lot to improve me for what it is I have coming up next. There are 10 second increments in a fight which can’t be trained for and I had plenty of those in my fight with Josh King. I felt good and the longer the fight want the more I was able to come into my own shape and enjoy it.”
While Katsidis has been away from the ring setting up his Pro Boxing Academy gym at Burleigh Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast, a new generation of promising young prospects have developed into world title contenders and champions. But they haven’t all impressed Katsidis, who believes one boxer in particular needs to pay his due before expecting to face one of the biggest names in the business.
”I’ve said all I’ve needed to say in regards to a fight with Jeff Horn in a previous press release,” said Katsidis. “I won’t go on about it any further in regards to someone that has not done what I have done or even been on the world stage as I have. It’s up to him to make the offer and if it makes sense then by all means the fight will happen. Good luck in making himself a commodity great enough to earn the fight. It comes down to what Jeff Horn and his promoter really believe they are capable of.”
Boxing is a sport that moves quickly. A boxer can be a world champion for a matter of months, lose the title and never get the opportunity to win it back. It’s not surprising then that Katsidis doesn’t keep up to date with the new generation of world champions and contenders making names for themselves from lightweight to welterweight, like Mikey Garcia, Terrence Crawford, Keith Thurman and evergreen warhorse Jorge Linares.
“The only fighter I know of in that list is Jorge Linares,” said Katsidis, who defended his interim WBO lightweight title against Czar Amonsot on the same card as Linares won his first world title against Oscar Larios at featherweight a decade ago. “I’m not a spectator and although most would think differently, to me I don’t follow boxing but love doing it. So yeah, they’re all good, I’m an instinct fighter and don’t watch too many tapes of guys I may or may not fight. I’ve been renowned to fall asleep one too many times in a video training session of an opponent, [like] back in 2003 for the Australian title against African King and Olympian Fred Kinuthia.”
Now that Katsidis has his desire back, what does he want to achieve in this comeback?
“How long is a piece of string?” asks Katsidis. “I love what I do and that’s the truth of it. I’ve proved what I can do and done a lot of things I don’t feel the need to do again, so now it’s about having the fights that make sense. One step at a time.”