- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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LAS VEGAS -- Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis were supposed to fight in March 2010 in an HBO main event, but Guerrero withdrew from the bout to care for his cancer-stricken wife, Casey.
Now, just over a year later and with Casey healthy, they finally met and Guerrero pounded out a lopsided decision in an action fight to claim a pair of vacant interim lightweight titles.
They fought in the co-featured fight on the Erik Morales-Marcos Maidana "Action Heroes" HBO PPV undercard at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night and produced the action fight many expected.
In the end, however, Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) was a bit too polished and powerful for Katsidis (27-4, 22 KOs) to overcome, winning by scores of 118-107, 118-106 and 117-108. ESPN.com had it 117-109 for Guerrero.
Guerrero looked in tremendous condition and focused, a byproduct of the fact that this was the first fight he had trained for with a true camp away from his Gilroy, Calif., home since his wife's illness and a nine-month layoff it caused between 2009 and 2010.
"I feel great. I won two titles, how could I not," said Guerrero, a former junior lightweight and featherweight titleholder. "Coming to camp made a huge difference. Everyone can see. I was ready."
Guerrero, who looked bigger, is a more polished fighter and he was landing flush shots on the defense-challenged Katsidis, an native of Australia known for being in slugfests.
Katsidis appeared to drag Guerrero into the kind of toe-to-toe fight that gave him his best chance to win, but Guerrero said he was ready for that.
"I'm a warrior. That's what you have to do. Sometimes you have to beat him at his own game," Guerrero said. "I just wanted to get in there, get busy, work my jab and punches. I'm ready for anyone. I want [lightweight champ Juan Manuel] Marquez, [junior welterweight titlist] Zab Judah, [Floyd] Mayweather, the winner from [Morales-Maidana]. I'll fight anybody."
Katsidis, who was coming off a ninth-round knockout loss to Marquez in November, had swelling eyes by the end of the third round and it only got worse as he ate punch after punch. A solid uppercut snapped Katsidis' head back in the fourth round, but Guerrero's eyes also were swelling.
Guerrero took command, however, in all-action fifth round. He was pounding Katsidis with right hands and combinations and Katsidis looked like he might be in trouble. However, he has walked through that kind of fire time and again in his career and survived despite a badly bruised right eye and a cut left eye.
Referee Russell Mora docked Katsidis two points for low blows in the eighth round and also took one from Guerrero for the same infraction in the ninth round of an increasingly dirty fight that featured action right up until a standing ovation at the final bell.
Ishida knocks out Kirkland in first
Middleweight Nobuhiro Ishida scored a massive upset as he knocked out James Kirkland in the first round.
It was a stunning scene to see Kirkland, one of the most touted fighters in boxing, knocked down three times before referee Joe Cortez called it off at 1 minutes, 52 seconds.
Kirkland, 27, of Austin, Texas, was in his third fight of what he hoped would be a feel-good comeback story after being out of action for two years because of an 18-month prison sentence for possessing a gun as a convicted felon.
Kirkland (27-1, 24 KOs) won his first two comeback fights inside two rounds last month, but Ishida (23-6-2, 8 KOs), a former interim junior middleweight titlist from Japan, cut through him with ease.
"That was amazing. We came into this fight as a victim and Kirkland came right at me, but I kept going at him with the rights and he went down," Ishida said. "He didn't expect this from me. He didn't respect what we had and so I just kept going with my right."
He knocked Kirkland down almost immediately, although he did not appear hurt. But the next two knockdowns seemed to do damage, especially the final one on a left hook-right hand combination that dropped Kirkland in a corner.
Kirkland had a different take, however.
"I'm good. I don't know why they stopped it," Kirkland said. "There isn't a three-knockdown rule in Vegas. I'm really upset right now. That was a messed up call. I was telling [Cortez] I want to fight. [Ishida] wasn't anything. He didn't have any power. This is all messed up."
Ishida came from earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan with his country on his mind.
"I fought with Japan on my side and now I'm ready for a title shot," he said.
•Welterweight Paulie Malignaggi (29-4, 6 KOs) gained a measure of revenge as he used his speed and skills to overcome the aggression of Puerto Rico's Jose Cotto (32-3-1, 24 KOs) to win a unanimous decision.
In 2006, Malignaggi took a beating from Miguel Cotto, Jose's younger brother, in a junior welterweight title bout. But on Saturday, it was Malignaggi who got the better of the family.
The 30-year-old New Yorker with the flashy style and big mouth took some hard shots from Cotto, but Cotto only landed them in spurts. Malignaggi controlled the most of the action was rewarded with the decision, 99-91, 99-91 and 97-93.
"It was really hard to fight him," Cotto said. "I kept trying to pressure him, but it was hard for me to find him. He kept moving around, but I don't think the scores were really fair."
Malignaggi was in his second fight since signing with Golden Boy after an 11th-round TKO loss to junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan last May and then moving up in weight. He now hopes for a shot against titleholder Jan Zaveck of Slovenia.
Malignaggi fought the second half of the fight with blood coming down his cheek after an accidental head butt opened a cut over his left eye, but it did not appear to hamper him in a crowd-pleasing fight.
"I feel great. It was good to get 10 rounds in against a good fighter," Malignaggi said. "My last one [in December] ended fast, so this is what I wanted, but I hurt both my hands during the fight and may have broke my left one. I wanted to make a statement. I wanted to control him in the beginning and stop him at the end, but my hands started hurting. So I decided to be smart and box him until I got the 'W.'"
•Junior welterweight Danny Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) scored the biggest win of his career, taking a near-shutout decision against former unified lightweight titlist Nate Campbell (33-8-1, 25 KOs), who could be headed back into retirement after such a poor showing.
Garcia, a 23-year-old former amateur standout and one of Golden Boy's top prospects, took it to Campbell, 39, throughout the fight. His youth and energy was clearly a big edge as he dominated with an excellent body attack, landed numerous right hands and combinations while Campbell was unable to get off.
Although he won, Garcia was not overly pleased with his performance.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Garcia said. "I expected to box him because he's a veteran. I didn't follow my game plan, but he's tricky so it messed me up. I'm still excited about the victory. It's a learning experience."
Campbell did not address whether he would fight again, but was displeased with how wide the scores were -- 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92.
"He knows he didn't win the fight like that," Campbell said. "The thing about boxing is that they give younger fighters the nod even if the older fighter gives it their all."
Campbell was making a comeback from a short-lived retirement he announced in November, a few days after a shocking eight-round decision loss to journeyman Walter Estrada.
At the time, Campbell said he realized that while he could see openings, he could not get his punches off and that he would not allow himself to become simply an opponent. But Campbell had a change of heart a short time later after one of his daughters questioned him about missing boxing.
•Heavyweight Rakhim Chakhkiev (10-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Olympic gold medalist from Russia, dominated Harvey Jolly (11-17-1, 6 KOs) before knocking him out in the third round in their scheduled four-rounder.
Chakhkiev, who was 203 pounds even though he intends to eventually fight for a title in the 200-pound cruiserweight division, was making his American debut under a new co-promotional deal between Golden Boy and Germany's Universum Box-Promotion.
The burly southpaw had an easy time with Jolley, whom he hammered with a strong body attack. Jolley went down in the second round from a series of body punches, but was game to continue.
Although Jolley gave Chakhkiev an abrasion on his left cheek, he could do little else. Finally, Chakhkiev landed a left to the top of the head that dropped Jolley for the count at 2 minutes, 18 seconds of the third round.
•In the first fight of the night, junior middleweight prospect Mikael Zewski (9-0, 5 KOs) appeared to dominate Clint Coronel (4-2-2, 1 KOs) despite getting a six-round split decision win. The scoring was highly unusual as two judges favored Zewski by scores of 60-54 -- a shutout -- and 59-55 while the third judge had it 60-54 for Coronel.
The Morales-Maidana undercard was full of action heroes as Robert Guerrero pounded out a lopsided decision over Michael Katsidis to claim a pair of vacant interim lightweight titles.