The vicious left hook from Michael Katsidis came late in the third round,dropping Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez flat on his back on the canvas inside Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
For a few seconds it appeared the Toowoomba-born brawler, just weeks after the shock death of his champion jockey brother Stathi Katsidis, had pulled off a fairytale victory against one of the greats of boxing.
The fairytale wasn’t to be, but Stathi, 31, would have been proud of his younger brother.
Katsidis, 30, stood-toe-to-toe with Marquez, considered one of the top four boxers in any weight division, and in the seventh and eighth rounds of their World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation lightweight world title bout appeared to be taking control of the tiring 37-year-old from Mexico City.
But in the ninth round Marquez recovered and went on the offensive, battering Katsidis with thundering body shots, uppercuts, lefts and rights.
Katsidis looked shaky, struggled to defend himself, and with 46 seconds left referee Kenny Bayless stepped in and handed Marquez a technical knockout, much to the displeasure of a vocal contingent of Australian fans in the 4920 crowd.
Katsidis remained on his feet throughout and walked out of the ring, but it was decided he would be taken to a Las Vegas hospital for precautionary tests and stitches to his face.
Marquez was full of praise for Katsidis, particularly for the left hand the Australian launched that knocked him down.
“I made one error and he caught me with a perfect punch,” said Marquez, recalling how he threw a right and left himself open.
US boxing commentators labelled the contest, with more than 800 power punches thrown, a favorite for fight of the year.Michael Katsidis
“It was a tough fight, but you would expect that from the number one contender in the world,” Marquez, who held the WBA and WBO belts before the fight, said.
“He surprised me in the third round with that left hook.”
Katsidis and his trainer Brendon Smith had worked on the punch,and when Marquez fired the right hand Katsidis ducked it and launched the left hook.
“I always knew he was susceptible to it,” Katsidis said.
“But this is boxing and he is a very experienced fighter. I’ve seen a lot of guys come undone from rushing in trying to finish him off.
“He was stronger than me and it ended up getting stopped.
“I’m not disappointed because I have gone through a lot to get to this fight.”
Katsidis will now be allowed to mourn the death of Stathi, after deciding to miss the funeral and stay in his jungle training camp in Thailand to prepare for the Marquez war.
Katsidis had refused to talk about Stathi, who he called his best friend, before the fight but in the ring after the bout he broke down when his brother’s name was raised.
“Stathi I love you very much. I miss you mate,” said Katsidis, with tears running down his cut and battered face.