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Michael Katsidis and the last temptation of Ricky Hatton

Also this week: a look at James Toney’s career-ending loss to Denis Lebedev in Moscow and a look back at George Foreman’s historic 1994 title fight with Michael Moorer.

Michael Katsidis connects with Kevin Mitchell.
Michael Katsidis connects with Kevin Mitchell.
Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

When he enters the ring in London’s Wembley Arena tonight, Michael Katsidis will be looking for more than a win against his opponent Ricky Burns.  By his own admission, the Australian will also be hoping to coax one of the most popular boxers of all time, Ricky Hatton, out of retirement.

Logically, it’s a fight that makes little sense.  Hatton hasn’t fought for two years, and is as far away from fighting shape as possible. He also confirmed his retirement in July, dividing his time between stints as a promoter and trainer. Katsidis, however, is, according to ESPN at least, adamant the Mancunian could lace his gloves up one more time.

“I don’t want to look past Ricky Burns, but I am going to win this title, and then I want to bring out one of the best English fighters ever.  We’ve started talking already and this is a reality.”

But the man they call “The Great” has every right to be wary of letting his mind wander. Burns is making the step up to lightweight from super featherweight for the first time, having been forced to resign a world title he held in that class.  Like Katsidis (who has lost two of his last three), the Scot’s in desperate need of a win after his last contest, against Nicky Cook in July, yielded a bizarre first-round stoppage.

Burns-Katsidis shares top billing in London tonight with a British and Commonwealth Super Middleweight title fight between George Groves, who is competing for the first time since his win over James DeGale earlier this year, and Liverpudlian Paul Smith.  Both fights should be entertaining, and will be available to watch for free on www.boxnation.tv.

Jabs and Parries

Tonight’s high-profile action on the other side of the pond takes place in Montreal, where Lucian Bute takes on Jamaican Glen Johnson.  Bute is probably the world’s premier super middleweight at the moment, although he hasn’t been tested in any meaningful way for over two years.

Should the Romanian’s unbeaten record survive the night, a bout with the winner of the Super Six final between Andre Ward and Carl Froch looks a certainty.

James Toney, one of the most dominant boxers of his generation, was outclassed and out-fought in every second of his fight with Denis Lebedev in Moscow last night.  The Russian, boxing in front of a partisan home audience, took an easy points decision against the American, who looked every day of his 43 years.

In his 23-year professional career, Toney won 73 of his 85 fights, won world titles at every weight from middle- to heavyweight and was twice named as Ring Magazine’s fighter of the year.  It’s an impressive CV; impressive enough, one hopes, to persuade the Michigan native to call it a day.

This Week in Boxing History

If James Toney’s desultory performance against Denis Lebedev demonstrates the extent to which boxing is a young man’s game, one in which Father Time has the best record of all, Bernard Hopkins, like George Foreman before him, continues to belie all logic.

Foreman’s career took a nosedive after his 1974 loss to Muhammad Ali in Zaire. The American fought six more times before losing tasting defeat against Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico.

This, it seemed, was his career meeting its natural end, but ten years later, at the age of 38, he returned to the ring.

Financial gain was Foreman’s primary incentive and though he initially struggled for fitness, the heavyweight went on to record 24 consecutive wins and earn another shot at a world title.

Foreman would lose that 1991 fight with Evander Holyfield, and another title bout against Tommy Morrison two years later, meaning that, by the time he took to the rings against Michael Moorer on November 5th, 1994, few were expecting fireworks.

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After losing the first nine rounds, the veteran looked to be cruising towards heartbreak. On this occasion, however, unlike so many others during his career, the boxing Gods chose to smile on the veteran.

20 years to the week after the Rumble in the Jungle, and wearing the same trunks as in Kinshasa, a stunning tenth-round comeback and short right-hand knockout made Foreman the sport’s oldest champion.

He would fight five more times before his “final” retirement in 1998, months shy of his 50th birthday.

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