Sharkie’s Machine: Juan Diaz defeats Michael Katsidis - "Fishy Officiating in Houston"
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Sept 8, 2008)  
Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz returned to the ring in his hometown of Houston at the Toyota Center Saturday as the main attraction in an event that cast the former IBF, WBO and WBA Lightweight champ Diaz (34-1, 17 KO’s) against the colorful slugger from Australia, Michael Katsidis (23-2, 20KO’s). Katsidis lost his last fight by knockout at the hands of Joel Casamayor, in a fight was shaping up to be a very close call for Casamayor. Last March, Diaz lost his titles to current champion, Nate “The Galaxxxy Warrior” Campbell, by Split Decision.

Instead of going for an easy, tune up caliber opponent, Diaz opted for the highly entertaining, former WBO Interim titlist; Michael Katsidis. To sweeten the pot for Katsidis vs. Diaz, the prize would be the vacant IBO Lightweight Title. On paper this fight sounded like a potential candidate for fight of the year as both have reputations for being big action fighters. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a one sided fight, dominated by Diaz, who used his jab and high work rate to break Katsidis down and render him completely ineffective.

Arguments can be made that Katsidis won the first round, where Diaz only threw some jabs in a feel out process and Katsidis was more aggressive, jabbed and threw combinations, one which landed cleanly. But after the first round, I couldn’t find a single round to give Katsidis, who clearly lacked the boxing skills and smarts to make any adjustments and just kept coming forward like a punching bag with legs for twelve rounds.

The most exciting thing about Katsidis is his ring entrance. He dons a Spartan war helmet and sports a tattoo of a sun that covers the whole of his back. Theatrically convincing he may be but his performance against Juan Diaz proved that he doesn’t possess the skills to be considered an elite fighter.

Diaz’ jab was the story of this fight. He used it liberally and controlled the pace of the fight from round two to twelve. Katsidis landed a few shots here and there but nothing that could turn the tide in his favor. This fight turned out to be a drama-less mismatch between an amateurish slugger against a well seasoned boxer. Diaz is strong, though he’s not a big banger. With his high work rate, his power comes from an accumulation of punches. He kept landing his jab so often that Katsidis was bleeding all over his face since the second round, when Diaz opened a cut over his left eye.

Diaz speed and work rate proved too much for Katsidis to handle and though the fight went the distance, it was an utter blowout. When the final bell rang, both fighters raised their arms in victory.

The official Judges were Glen Hamada, who scored the fight 115-113 for Katsidis. The two other Judges scored it, 116-112 and 115-113 in favor of Diaz. My score was 119-109 for Diaz.

This Split Decision draws attention to the infamously poor quality of Judging in so many boxing matches. It’s a damn shame that anything outside of a knockout victory is often compromised by obvious corruption. How in the world did Glen Hamada have Katsidis winning seven rounds? Glen Hamada demonstrated that he is unqualified to Judge a boxing match and should be held accountable for his suspicious performance as a Judge—but he won’t be. As for the other two Judges, what fight were they watching to have that close?

In all generosity, Katsidis may have won two rounds, if you really stretched it. Luckily, the winner did get the W in this fight. But it is despicable that even in an obviously one sided fight like this one was, an Official Judge can post such an unbelievable, reality defying score card. It reeks of corruption and hurts our sport. It is exactly this kind of crap that keep boxing in the cellar of professional sports.

As for Katsidis, his best option would be to fight guys in his own skill level. There are some good B level opponents that would make for good entertainment should Katsidis fight them, guys like Anthony Peterson, Bobby Pacquaio or maybe Breidis Prescott, who just knocked out the overly hyped Amir Khan. With the right match making, Katsidis will remain an entertaining fighter to watch.

Congratulations to Juan Diaz for a top rate performance. During the post fight interview, Diaz was asked who he wanted to fight next, he said he wanted to reestablish himself as the true king Lightweight Champion of the world. He mentioned Marquez (a Jr. Lightweight) and Casamayor and then said, “Whoever they bring, I’m ready for whoever.” Interesting that Diaz didn’t mention the one name that’s most significant; the man who took his titles in the first place, Nate Campbell.

Diaz vs. Casamayor would be a good fight. Casamayor is still an excellent boxer with sneaky power. He may be old but he’s still dangerous. I’d especially like to see Diaz fight Manny Pacquaio or Joan Guzman. But ultimately, a rematch with Nate Campbell would be his quickest road to glory…or disaster. Time will tell how it all unfolds.

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