Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez will make the second defense of his world lightweight titles tonight when he meets Australia’s Michael Katsidis at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Marquez (51-5-1, 37 knockouts) stands as Mexico’s proudest world champion, having fought Manny Pacquiao to a 2004 draw and a 2008 split-decision loss. Marquez proceeded to claim the lightweight belt by defeating Juan Diaz in the 2009 fight of the year.
He took a big pay day to get beat by the far larger Floyd Mayweather Jr. later last year, then returned to the lightweight division and punished Diaz again in a July unanimous decision.
Katsidis (27-2, 22 KOs) has lost to two opponents that Marquez has defeated in recent years –- Diaz and Joel Casamayor –- but he’s won his last four bouts and is fighting in the memory of his brother, who died recently.
Marquez expressed sympathy, but has his sights set on a third showdown with Pacquiao. Any hope of that requires a victory tonight.
Here's round-by-round coverage of the fight (scoring is unofficial):
Round 1: Marquez starts with jabs to the body. He lands a good right to Katsidis’ face. Another. Marquez is blocking Katsidis’ jab. Katsidis sneaks one in. Good right by Marquez. He works for openings. Good overhand right by Marquez. Marquez wins round, 10-9.
Round 2: Marquez jabs to the head. Katsidis going inside, but he gets hit. Marquez hitting low. Marquez right to body, left to head. Good combo to head by Marquez. Katsidis tough to inside, but sustains three hard combinations in final 30 seconds. Marquez wins round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 20-18.
Round 3: Marquez hard jab to the face. Katsidis slower to charge in. Katsidis knocks Marquez down with left hook from nowhere. Eight count. Great left by Katsidis as action resumes. Marquez on ropes, slides to left. Nice left by Marquez. Marquez back to the body. Marquez lands a good left to the face. He can take a knockdown. Five hard punches by Marquez, but Katsidis wins round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 29-28.
Round 4: Marquez ccombination opens the round. Left uppercut by Marquez. Good right by Katsidis and counter by Marquez. Good right-left combo by Katsidis. Marquez’s lefts are wicked, followed with an uppercut and jab. Katsidis works the body. Marquez good left. Katsidis goes inside again, Marquez backs up and lands. Marquez wins round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 39-37.
Round 5: Katsidis lands a right to the body. Marquez takes some shots, only to unleash harder blows. Good uppercuts by Marquez, he’s more polished. Katsidis again to the body. Refereee Kenny Bayless breaks them up. Katsidis working Marquez on the ropes. Marquez gets off the ropes and gets best of thrilling exchange in center of ring. Marquez wins round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 49-46.
Round 6: The inside battle continues. Katsidis gets the better of early exchanges. Marquez right to body. Katsidis good left to face. Hard right by Katsidis to the head. Marquez strong in reply. Jabbing away. Marquez strong in final seconds. Close round to Katsidis, 10-9. Marquez leads, 58-56.
Round 7: Katsidis charges, lands left to face. Great inside fighting. Both guys giving and taking. Marquez takes a left-right. Is he tiring? Marquez works the body. Straight right by Marquez to face. Big right by Marquez. Both guys attacking body. Marquez gets best (again) of late exchange. Marquez wins round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 68-65.
Round 8: Marquez lands two left uppercuts. Action slows a bit. Katsidis gets busy inside. Busier. Katsidis' right eye is swelling, but his surge is tiring Marquez, Nice late exchange by Marquez but he was outworked in round. Katsidis wins round, 10-9. Marquez leads, 77-75.
Round 9: Katsidisdelivers hard to the body. Ten straight punches by Marquez. Katsidis backing up. Two big right uppercuts by Marquez highlights a big barrage. Left uppercut. Hard right backs up Katsidis and Bayless stops the fight. Juan Manuel Marquez wins by ninth-round TKO.
--Lance Pugmire, reporting from Las Vegas
Photo: Juan Manuel Marquez, left, and Michael Katsidis strike a pose during a news conference on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters