by Fox Doucette
On ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, Australian Michael Katsidis (28-6, 23 KOs) may very well have sung the swan song to his career, as he went down by majority decision to Ghanaian journeyman Albert Mensah (25-3-1, 10 KOs) in a very entertaining main event. The co-feature was a blink-and-you-missed-it one-round affair in which Alan Sanchez (10-2-1, 4 KOs) avenged a split decision loss to Artemio Reyes (15-2, 12 KOs) in spectacular fashion, clobbering Reyes and getting rid of him.
Michael Katsidis has a lot of heart; unfortunately, hearts don’t throw punches, and Albert Mensah was equal to the challenge of the Aussie’s onslaught throughout the fight. Mensah picked his spots, deflected, rolled from, and otherwise minimized the impact of Katsidis’ shots, and fired back accurately and sharply, forcing his opponent to respect him and to back off him rather than charge in through the firestorm.
Katsidis nearly found himself a knockout victim tonight. In the ninth round, the Aussie was rocked badly by a series of shots from Mensah, but the Ghanaian either did not recognize that he had hurt his opponent or did not have the killer instinct required in order to pounce on his prey and eviscerate him in order to bring the show to an early conclusion. Katsidis is a shopworn fighter and it showed tonight, but going forward, it looks like Albert Mensah will be eaten alive by better fighters who still have something left in the tank. Mensah should have knocked his enemy out.
When the decision came down, the scores were 95-95, 96-94, and 98-92, with Mensah carrying the winning cards. The Boxing Tribune had this fight 95-95; Teddy Atlas had it 96-94. The judge who had it 98-92, Richard Ocasio, ought to find himself on a few watchlists; a quick glance at his record on Boxrec shows all the telltale signs of a judge who is either incompetent or corrupt, as his scores tend to vary fairly widely from the other two judges at ringside every time he sits down to judge a fighter. While the old saying goes “never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence”, either outcome shows that Richard Ocasio should not be allowed to judge professional boxing matches again until he both undergoes further training on how properly to score a boxing match AND has an investigation done in order to definitively prove that he is not, in fact, paid off by promoters. Bad form, Richard Ocasio. We’re watching you.
The co-feature was Hobbesian in scope and result; nasty, brutish, and short. Artemio Reyes, whether he was overburdened mentally by the recent death of his father or else simply overmatched by a guy who has developed more effectively as a fighter than he has, ate an uppercut right on the chin midway through the first round. Seizing the opportunity, fueled perhaps by the rage of a split decision loss in the past to the same fighter, Alan Sanchez followed Rule #1 of fighters worried about the scorecards; “Don’t send it to the scorecards”. Applying relentless pressure, landing punch after punch, and snapping the head of his opponent back like a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot, Sanchez closed the show in spectacular fashion indeed. Referee Joe Cortez could probably have stopped the fight sooner; he once again shows that he has applied for graduation from the Arthur Mercante Jr. School of Negligent Homicide. You’ll get your degree yet, Joe. Before that happens, someone needs to teach Joe Cortez how to recognize when a fighter is out on his feet.
The rapid end to the first fight left room for a swing bout, and Taylor Larson (0-2-1, 0 KOs) and Cameron Krael (1-1-2, 0 KOs) fought a wonderful rematch of a draw they fought to in a four-rounder last October. There isn’t much to say here other than Larson was the much busier fighter but Krael landed the cleaner shots. How judges scored the fight was purely a function of whether it was better to reward work rate or better to reward being effective. Styles make fights, and if these guys want to get together and scrap a third time in between a co-feature KO and a main event, they’d be a pleasure to watch.
When the decision came down, Krael took the action 39-37 (twice), 38-38, a majority decision. Your columnist had it 38-38, a draw, and thought there was a better argument for Larson winning by decision than for Krael, but any score a round either side of even for either fighter would be perfectly acceptable. For the record, Boxrec has the names of both fighters wrong on their site; the spellings and records for these guys came directly from transcribing the text on the ESPN2 screen during the course of making notes. Get on the ball, Boxrec.
Next week, “that other super middleweight from Montreal, y’know, not Lucian Bute, the other one, the black guy”, otherwise known as Adonis Stevenson (17-1, 14 KOs), looks to build off his recent success beating the snot out of Jesus Gonzales as he takes on Noe Gonzalez (28-1, 20 KOs) for the right to call himself the #1 contender to Andre Ward’s WBC super middleweight crown. The co-feature brings undefeated heavyweight prospect Oscar Rivas (9-0, 6 KOs) fighting Kendrick Releford (22-16-2, 10 KOs), best known to regular FNF viewers as the guy who got starched by Chris Arreola last May. Friday Night Fights is back in its regular timeslot on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com next Friday, April 20th, at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. Stay tuned—the Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s action, including any swing fights that make air. 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 was WAY off on his main event prediction and glad for that fact. Fan mail, hate mail, and “see, I told you so” from Albert Mensah’s fans can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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