It’s quite likely that Michael Katsidis, who has held a WBO championship on two different occasions, will be forced to retire for medical reasons. He has pulled out of a scheduled fight against Weng Haya of the Philippines that was supposed to take place on the 21st, but doctors have urged him not to fight.
The full story is still a mystery of sorts, but he indicates that he will explain what is going on by the time of that scheduled show. “People recognize me for my toughness in the ring, but it’s been just as tough outside the ring the last couple of days,” he has told reporters.
His manager, Glen Murray, has been talking about “the first round of reports” and that Katsidis was crying about his state, but there were no specifics as to what those reports were about.
More tests and more reports are sure to come, and there will be a second opinion sought, but none of this is going to allow him to keep the date with Haya.
Katsidis was an Australian icon; a representative on the 2000 Olympic team who was brought along as a future star. He fought a 12-rounder in only his second pro fight, capturing the Australian lightweight title, and went on to win his first 23 fights as a professional. In one of those bouts we won the interim WBO crown at 135 pounds against Graham Earl, and he suffered his first pro defeat to Joel Casamayor in March 2008.
There were lots of thrills along the way, including a split decision loss to Juan Diaz in Houston in September 2008, after which he rebounded to beat Vicente Escobedo to win yet another interim WBO lightweight title, and in one of his best career fights, stopped previously undefeated Kevin Mitchell in three rounds (May 2010).
Katsidis’ career had actually taken something of a downward turn, as he lost four of his last five fights. It started with what was his highest-profile encounter, as he floored Juan Manuel Marquez in the first round but wound up getting stopped in the ninth in Las Vegas. His performance that night may have understandably been affected by a tragedy shortly before that – the death of his brother, Stathi Katsidis, a successful jockey who was found dead with drugs and alcohol after an evening of partying at a Metallica concert and arguments with his former fiancee.
In the next bout after Marquez, Robert Guerrero beat him on a rather one-sided decision, and though he did get another opportunity to fight for yet ANOTHER interim championship – against Ricky Burns in November 2011 – he was unsuccessful. Katsidis last entered the ring in April of last year when he lost a majority decision to Albert Mensah.
Katsidis’ career likely ends with a record of 28-6 with 23 wins inside the distance. He was known as one of the most exciting fighters in the game, constantly putting pressure on his opponent, and that made him a favorite of television people. His potent left hook did a lot of damage to Marquez (the recent conqueror of Manny Pacquiao) but it wasn’t enough, as Marquez wore him down.
His trainer, Johnny Lewis, was upset but relieved at the same time. “He wants to speak to his family first before announcing anything,” he told London’s Daily Telegraph, “but really I’m glad the tests have stopped him fighting before something really bad happened.”