- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Fans yearning for a second installment to the sensational 2007 slugfest between Michael Katsidis and Graham Earl will get one: In August, at a site to be determined in Australia, after the sides agreed this week to a rematch.
Their '07 fight left the crowd gasping and was etched in the minds of anyone who saw it. Australia's Katsidis, who traveled to Earl's native England for the interim lightweight title bout, wound up stopping him in the fifth round of a fight that launched Katsidis to stardom as one of boxing's most exciting performers.
Now that Katsidis, (27-4, 22 KOs), 30, has dropped two fights in a row -- a lopsided decision to Robert Guerrero on April 9 and a ninth-round knockout in a lightweight championship fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in November -- and is looking to rebound, what better way to do it than by facing Earl again in a rematch of their spectacle?
"Earl has been chasing this since we walked out of the ring four years ago," Brendon Smith, Katsidis' manager and trainer, said. "He has shown up at press conferences and even tried to enter our training camp in Thailand in the lead-up to the Juan Manuel Marquez title fight to issue a challenge. We did promise him the rematch, and now his wish has been granted. What an amazing fight it will be for Australia."
Said Katsidis: "Graham is one tough man. It will definitely be a war and I love a war. When we met in '07, we exchanged a lot of punches, he went down, I went down. It will be on again. From the day we embraced each other and agreed for a rematch, he has chased me and now I will honor my commitment to Graham Earl, and give him the rematch he has been seeking."
After Earl (26-4, 12 KOs), 32, lost to Katsidis, he went on to drop his next two fights as well, both via first-round knockouts (including to future junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan).
Although Earl won his next fight in June 2009, it was a six-round decision against professional loser Karl Taylor (16-125-7 at the time). Earl has not fought in the two years since and is clearly on the downside of his career. However, he is still excited to get the rematch he has wanted since '07.
"Ever since our last fight together I was promised a rematch and the chance to get my revenge," Earl said.
"Obviously, I understand that there were obligations from that fight and he had the opportunities to move on. He got the win that night. He put me down a few times, then I put him down. We were having a war in the fourth and fifth (rounds) and I believe I won those two rounds, and the fight was in the balance at that stage. If the fight had continued I believe I would have won.
"Last time it was in my own backyard, this time it looks like it may be in his. I love the challenge and will do the job properly and get the result. ... Most fights these days are not great at all. People are paying good money and not getting the fights they deserve. (The rematch) will give fans the kind of fight they want and deserve."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
Fans yearning for a second installment to the sensational 2007 slugfest between Australia's Michael Katsidis and England's Graham Earl will get one: In August, on a date to be determined, after the sides agreed to a rematch this week.