by Paul Magno
Even with Manny Pacquiao out of the picture and chasing after the Oscar that lays the golden eggs, the Lightweight division will be just fine- especially if the upcoming fights in September are any indication.
Here’s a look at the four major Lightweight bouts in September and a guide of what to look for in each:
September 6th: Juan Diaz vs Michael Katsidis
There’s no world title on the line for this one, but the winner will be sure to get a shot- possibly by year’s end. Both Diaz and Katsidis are coming off of nasty losses at the hands of veterans, previously thought to have one foot out the proverbial Boxing door: “Baby Bull” Diaz was “out-bulled” by Nate Campbell in a brutal inside war while Katsidis came into his fight the favorite to beat Casamayor and was TKO’d by the same guy many were insisting was finished in the sport.
Whatever the case here, this fight will be a war- a live, human version of Rock ,em Sock ,em Robots.
What to look for:
Warrior or Worrier?
Both fighters were somewhat emasculated in their last fight. What’s going to happen when either of them gets hit hard or stunned in this fight? What happens if/when there’s a knockdown? The mental toughness of both fighters will be put into question in this fight.
Baby Got Back
Just look at their backs if you want to see in which direction the fight is going- Whoever’s back eventually finds itself against the ropes is losing the fight. The absolute key to this fight is in imposing their will on their opponent. Katsidis needs room to throw those big shots and Diaz needs to push forward to apply pressure. So, the fighter who eventually gets pushed to the ropes will be the one losing control of the fight.
September 6th: Amir Khan vs. Breidis Prescott
This is the least essential fight of the four fights mentioned here, but it could be the most interesting. Amir Khan is the biggest prospect in the division and this fight, in many ways, will be his biggest test to date. This will be the first fight where Khan will not be able to cruise to victory on physical ability alone. He will have to win this fight with skill and technique.
Prescott is a lot like most Colombian fighters- tough power-punchers with a boatload of technical flaws. However, Prescott will brawl and throw tons of leather and if Khan’s not ready for this fight and doesn’t come in focused, he will be looking up at the lights.
What to look for:
Lets Get Ready to Rumble:
Is Khan ready for a two-fisted brawler as young, as tall and as hungry as he is? We’ll find out.
September 13th: Nate Campbell vs. Joan Guzman
Guzman is moving up to try and take the WBA, WBO and IBF titles that Campbell ripped away from Juan Diaz in one of the shockers of the year. The weight issue should be minimal since Guzman allegedly tips the scales as high as 147 in his normal, day to day, life.
Campbell has always talked a good game, but has never been a consistant performer in the ring. Sometimes he looks fantastic, sometimes he just looks like a decent ESPN2 fighter. Guzman, on the other hand, has shown world-class talent, but has been inactive and unsure of exactly what his fighting style is.
What to look for:
Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover:
With his long reach and quick hands, Nate Campbell looks like a boxer while Joan Guzman, a Mike Tyson look alike, with his bravado, looks like a brawler. Neither is true. Campbell loves to brawl while Guzman will take flight at a moment’s notice.
The key here will be being able to lure their opponent into fighting a different style. If you see Campbell chasing Guzman, Campbell will lose; If you see fierce exchanges, Guzman will lose.
Space: The Final Frontier:
Look for the distance between both fighters. If Campbell can keep Guzman relatively close, then he has a good chance of pulling off the victory. If he can’t keep Guzman within arm’s reach, it will be a long night for him.
September 13th: Joel Casamayor vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
For those wanting to write a textbook on good, technical boxing, this will be the fight to watch.
Marquez is moving up in weight to take on reigning Ring champ, Joel Casamayor.
Casamayor was thought to be washed-up after his awful performance against Santa Cruz in ’07, but he put those doubters to shame by outclassing and taking out the younger, more aggressive Michael Katsidis.
Marquez lost a disputed decision to Manny Pacquiao in his last fight, but was competitive throughout and had actually hurt the consensus Pound for Pound king a few times.
What to look for:
Matador or Bull?:
At this stage of his career, Casamayor feels much more comfortable being the matador in his fights- stepping aside in the face of aggression and countering smartly. However, Marquez is a controlled fighter in all areas of style and temperament. There is no wasted movement or over-indulgence in Marquez’s game, so if Casamayor is looking to counter a Marquez mistake or generally play matador, he will be in trouble.
To win this fight, Casamayor needs to be a bit of a bull and push the fight on the naturally smaller Marquez. Does he have the energy left in his game to do so? We’ll see.
The “Weighting” is the Hardest Part:
For a veteran fighter who is not abnormally gifted with power or speed, a move up in weight is a big deal. How will Marquez handle the weight against a guy in Casamayor who is a natural Lightweight? What will happen when/if Marquez gets hit flush and hard by Casamayor when a faded and smaller Marco Antonio Barrera seriously buzzed Marquez? Again, we’ll just have to wait and see.
So, while the Welterweights and Catchweight fights get most of the press, The Lightweights will be doing the hard work of actually fighting one another.
The month of September will be burning with important Lightweight fights and no matter who wins those battles, its the fans who will be the winners.