TiVo was made for Michael Katsidis.
You may not have heard much of Katsidis, because he rarely has appeared on American television. Katsidis is not the best fighter in the world, not what one would call smooth, graceful or athletic.
But if you're one of those who refer to boxing as the fight game, who genuflects at the mere mention of the Hagler-Hearns fight, then Katsidis is your guy.
He's a modern-day Jake LaMotta, a guy who plunges forward throwing punches regardless of what is coming back. And Katsidis' next chance to do just that is Saturday when he fights Joel Casamayor for a lightweight title at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, Calif., in a bout that will be televised on HBO's Boxing After Dark.
Casamayor is the 1992 Olympic gold medalist from Cuba who, along with light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, knows all the dirty tricks. In fact, I swear Casamayor might confuse boxing with soccer, considering the way he uses his head in every fight.
Katsidis is going to get busted up. He's going to take punishment.
He'll eat a few lefts, undoubtedly will be butted, and probably will be elbowed. That's simply par for the course for a Casamayor opponent. But you know what? Katsidis still will be moving forward, firing punches.
"When I get out there, I see this as nothing less than a fight for my life," said Katsidis, a member of the 2000 Australian Olympic boxing team who is 23-0 as a pro. "When you strip everything else away, that's what this is. I'm fighting for my life."
It's almost galling to hear boxers – yes, boxers, not fighters – refer to themselves as warriors these days. Too many of them have gotten the idea that it's chic to say they plan to fight to the death.
But Katsidis? He's a rare one who actually might mean it.
It's hard to say how good Katsidis really is. He has faced decidedly second-rate opposition in his brief career, with his most significant wins coming over Graham Earl and Czar Amonsot – neither of whom have ever been mentioned in the same sentence with the word great.
Earl had Katsidis down in their bout for the WBO interim lightweight title on Feb. 17, 2007, in London. Katsidis was nearly out on his feet.
But Katsidis staved off defeat by gritting his teeth, firing punches and forcing Earl to quit.
"Boxing chose me; I didn't choose boxing," Katsidis said. "And I believe if you're going to be a fighter, you go in there and you fight. That's what they pay you for and that's what the people are there to see. I feel like the most important thing to do is to fight beginning to end."
He throws wide punches and is vulnerable to short, hard shots down the middle. He's usually open for the uppercut on the inside – a punch that Casamayor is so good at he ought to patent.
But Katsidis has worked hard in the gym to correct those problems, and long-time friend, trainer and manager Brendon Smith believes he's vastly improved.
"He works as hard to get ready as he does when he's fighting," Smith said. "And I think each time out, you've seen a different Michael. He's added something each time. He's just getting better fight by fight. I believe you'll see the best Michael you've seen against Casamayor."
The Katsidis-Casamayor bout will be televised in conjunction with the replay of the epic slugfest last week between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. It's worth watching HBO on Saturday simply to see that sensational bout.
But if anyone can upstage that show, it's Katsidis. He chuckles at the mention of it, but concedes he's going to give it a show.
"The lightweight division is fantastic now and there are so many great, great fighters, that you know pretty much whenever you get in there that you're going to have a very big task in front of you," he
said. "I know that. I have all the respect in the world for Casamayor. How could I not? Look at what the guy has done. He commands your respect simply by what he has done these years.
"It's good for me to be fighting him, because that is what gets me up and gets me to be my best. A lot of people are daunted by the big fight. But me, that's what I need. The bigger and better the fight, the more I am into it. I thrive on that."
And fans should thrive on watching. Michael Katsidis is must-see TV.
It's hard to say whether Katsidis will win, because it's unclear how much Casamayor has left. And we've never seen Katsidis in the ring with a world-class opponent.
Regardless, this fight is going to be exciting for however long it lasts and Katsidis is going to make you say wow at least once during the fight.