by Fox Doucette
Lightweight contender Michael Katsidis (28-5, 23 KOs) looks to join the club of once-great fighters trying to resurrect their careers on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights this week against Ghanaian fighter Albert Mensah (24-3-1, 10 KOs) in the main event. The co-feature brings fans a battle way down the welterweight ranks as Artemio Reyes (15-1, 12 KOs) looks to continue his winning ways as a prospect and hand another defeat to Alan Sanchez (9-2-1, 3 KOs) in a rematch of a split decision that Reyes won in 2010.
Michael Katsidis and Kendall Holt could get together and compare notes about their careers. If the narrative of Katsidis’ career and his participation on ESPN2 look familiar, that’s only because they should; not even a month ago we saw Holt for the second time on the network trying to rebound from a loss to a fighter that would have launched his career to stratospheric heights.
For Katsidis, this is gut-check time; three times in his last four fights he has fought for some flavor of a world title; three times he has been soundly defeated. Ricky Burns smacked Katsidis around for twelve rounds en route to an easy unanimous decision on the cards back in November, Robert Guerrero won a similarly lopsided contest in April of 2011, and back in 2010 the mighty Juan Manuel Marquez beat Katsidis like Floyd Mayweather beats his girlfriend en route to a ninth-round TKO victory. Going back further than that for the Australian, Katsidis suffered two defeats in 2008, including a KO loss to Joel Casamayor that casts serious doubts on his ability to withstand the assault of genuine power punchers. As it turns out, that was the last gasp of relevance for Casamayor; he has gone 2-3 and been knocked out twice since that fight. Was Katsidis facing an already-faded fighter when he lost to the venerable Puerto Rican on that fateful day in the dying months of the Bush regime?
Whatever the answer to that question, Albert Mensah is no Juan Manuel Marquez and he is no Joel Casamayor, faded or otherwise. He has only one fight outside his native Ghana, a majority decision win (117-111 twice, 114-114, make of that what you will) against Chicago club fighter Andre Gorges for a bogus belt in the IBF hierarchy (which is why the fight was twelve rounds.) In Africa Mensah has lost three times, including to an 0-2 fighter named Frank Dodze, who to this day has only that one win over a fighter who did not have zero wins entering the fight. All of Dodze’s other ten victims brought a combined record of 0-22 as professionals into those fights. Think on that; Albert Mensah lost to that guy.
In simplest possible terms, this is exactly the sort of sham of a fight masquerading as an intriguing main event that is calculated to provide a big knockout punch SportsCenter highlight to a fighter who is on the rebound like a girl with low self-esteem who has just been dumped and will let anyone into her bedroom to ease the pain of her crushing loneliness. And much like a man knowing he is taking advantage of someone easy, fans will enjoy the quick and dirty action while it lasts while not pausing too long to reflect on any deeper meaning from the encounter. Check the parking lot; ESPN2 is going to need swing fighters to fill the television time. Although Mensah has not yet been stopped, he has also yet to fight anyone who can punch harder than a dead guy. Expect this to be over quick.
The co-feature is a good old fashioned grudge match. Any time two guys fight to a split decision, and that decision was not the result of a judge so dedicated to the promoter’s fighter that the scores went 60-54, 59-55, 55-59, the rematch is all but guaranteed to have some real bad blood attached to it. Reyes-Sanchez I may very well have been such a result, however; 59-55, 58-56, 56-58 is very fishy indeed. Was Daniel Sandoval on the take that night? For that matter, were Carla Caiz and Jonathan Davis paid off and was Sandoval the voice of reason in a fight Sanchez won? Sadly, controversy is thin on the ground in battles between relatively insignificant fighters, so unless you were at the fight your guess is as good as ours here at the Tribune, but whatever the motive, Alan Sanchez is bringing some bad blood with him into this ten-rounder.
Artemio Reyes has one loss on his resumé, and one can hardly hold it against him; in his second pro fight he lost to a then 3-0 Mike Dallas Jr. via four-round unanimous decision. Reyes owns a win over Javier Molina, who brought a 9-0 record into their contest last October, and in addition Reyes also beat a tough, veteran, better-than-his-record Chris Gray, who was 13-15 at the time of their fight, that fight happening last June in Ontario, California. Gray’s list of conquerors includes an army of fringe and genuine contenders, among them Erislandy Lara, Ishe Smith, Billy Lyell, Ed Paredes, and Tyrese Hendrix. Reyes has won fourteen consecutive fights, all but three (Gray, Molina, and the first Sanchez fight) by knockout.
Alan Sanchez hasn’t exactly kept busy with tomato cans and nobodies either; he is 3-0-1 against guys who had not yet lost as professionals when meeting him. His most recent fight was an eight-round decision win over Alberto Herrera, younger brother of infamous FNF decision-stealer Mauricio Herrera and himself a victim of Demetrius Andrade on the undercard of his brother’s robbery of Ruslan Provodnikov on ESPN2 last January in the 2011 season opener. Mauricio Herrera, of course, beat Mike Dallas Jr. by extremely questionable decision, who beat Artemio Reyes, completing the circle of life for this fight.
What does this mean for fans? Who knows? Artemio Reyes is trying to prove that he is better than a split decision in a rematch; Alan Sanchez is going ten rounds for the first time in his career, a place his opponent has similarly never been, his lone scheduled ten rounder ending by first round knockout over Victor Hugo Correa just six weeks ago, a fight that was interesting insofar as Correa came in nine pounds heavier than his opponent, weighing 156 to Reyes’ 147. Whatever the implications, this should be a great co-feature to a lackluster but brutal main event.
Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.com on Friday the 13th at 11 PM Eastern/8 PM Pacific, a special time following the conclusion of the NASCAR Nationwide race on the network (because programming executives believe that cars driving fast and turning left are somehow more interesting than two men punching each other into unconsciousness for reasons completely incomprehensible to sane people. At least it isn’t tennis this time.) The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s action, including any swing fights that make air, after the fights conclude. Stay tuned; we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. He is concerned that Mensah will go into “survival mode”, ugly up the fight, and ruin the entertainment value, and hopes that doesn’t happen. Fan mail, hate mail, and agreement with our Editor in Chief that the best defense against clinching is learning how to fight against a clinch (amen!) can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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