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Casamayor, Katsidis square off tonight for linear lightweight title

Greetings, fight fans. We are faced with yet another lightweight fight of significance this month. Two weeks ago in Cancun Mexico, we saw Nate Campbell upset previously undefeated lightweight titleholder Juan Diaz for three of the lightweight titles in a fight that is already a candidate for fight of the year. Coming off such a big win, Campbell is now widely regarded as the best lightweight in the world. Who exactly holds the title as the people's lightweight champion of the world is still up for debate at this moment. Tonight, the linear lightweight championship is on the line in a fight between Champion Joel Casamayor and Michael Katsidis.

Casamayor looked horrifically faded when he fought Santa Cruz this past November. He clearly lost that fight, but was awarded a gift split decision (you may recall I put this in the highway robbery category and rightfully so). It may have been an off night, but I don't think that's the reason for his performance. Casamayor is a mere shell of his old self. Lately when I look at Casamayor, I see an old fighter whose skills have erroded considerably. If it was the younger Casamayor, who beat the likes of Roberto Garcia and Diego Corrales, the result of tonight's showdown might indeed be a different story. But against Santa Cruz, Casamayor looked like an amateur who was fighting on spaghetti legs. He couldn't pull the trigger, either, and those are the signs of an aged fighter.

Dating back to his fight against Lamont Pearson in July of 2006 on an edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights, in what was supposed to be a tune up for a proposed title fight against Corrales, Casamayor looked very ordinary and flat. Pearson was actually winning rounds early. Casamayor stopped him late. Prior to his fight with Pearson, Casamayor was probably fortunate to get a draw with Almazbek Raiymkulov in a fight that he probably should've lost. That was the same guy whom current lightweight titlist Campbell smacked around, dominated, and stopped on the Tarver/Jones III undercard. Against Corrales in October 2006, Casamayor barely won their third fight on a split decision and looked flat doing so. Corrales, rest in peace, had not the been same since he fought Castillo in their first fight in May of 2005.

Katsidis, the younger and stronger fighter, will put an exclamation point on what Santa Cruz previously exposed. The jury is still out as to whether Katsidis is the next big thing in the lightweight division. He might be just a bit overrated, so I don't know he's the next special fighter to emerge on the scene, but he could very possibly be the next big attraction in the lightweight division!

Maybe Katsidis is the next Arturo Gatti??? He cuts and bleeds like Gatti, and he's fun to watch, but he's also won all of his fights up to this fight (even if it's been against somewhat limited opposition) and he can punch. Hopefully we get just as exciting of a fight tomorrow night as we got 12 years ago when Gatti fought for and won his first world title against Tracy Harris Patterson.

Surely Casamayor will come into this fight more motivated than he was for Santa Cruz, knowing that Katsidis is a strong relentless brawler who is young, undefeated, and hungry to win a world title. Motivation only does so much to strengthen the mind, but when the flesh is weak and worn down at the end of a long career, the mind has limited capabilities. Casamayor did handle a skilled slugger in Corrales in three fights (taking two of the three in their memorable trilogy), but unfortunately for him, he's all the more shop worn as a result of those tough fights and it was painfully obvious in his fight against Santa Cruz.

Lets face it. Santa Cruz, who was such a substantial underdog in a fight of that magnitude, practically shut out Casamayor! Casamayor was tripping all over himself as he ran aimless around the ring, and mostly importantly... NOT throwing punches. Casamayor's only chance, in my honest opinion, is to stop Katsidis on cuts.

Prediction: I have to pick Katsidis by split decision is an excellent fight, that should probably be unanimous. In this case, will beats skill being that the will is greater and the skill is substantially diminished.

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