Juan Manuel Marquez wants a third fight against Manny Pacquiao. The lightweight champion of the world moved closer to getting his wish Saturday night by defending his title with a sensational ninth-round TKO victory against upset-minded Michael Katsidis.
"Katsidis is a great fighter and Pacquiao has been avoiding us, but a third fight against Pacquiao is what people want to see,'' Marquez said. "Hopefully, it will happen."
Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) owns a draw and a split decision in two fights against Pacquiao. Against Katsidis, in the headliner of HBO'sWorld championship Boxing tripleheader from the MGM Grand in Las vegas, Marquez was out to show the world he's still deserving of another fight against the champion many consider No. 1 pound for pound in the world.
With pinpoint accuracy, speed and power, Marquez masterfully delivered much more punishment than he absorbed against Katsidis, whose non-stop aggressiveness forced the Mexican champion to bring his "A" game to the fore.
The close-encounter warfare took a surprising turn in the third round Katsidis landed a flush left hook that put Marquez on his backside. The Australian stepped up the pressure, but Marquez fought back with punches from every angle rather than taking the safer tact of holding on.
"He's the No. 1 challenger in the world and I knew he would be difficult,'' Marquez said. "He was so difficult, he surprised me in the third round with a left hook. But I'm in very good condition and I recuperated well."
From there, Marquez took control of the fight with his volume of precision punches outgunning Katsidis' less accurate assortment of hooks.
As the rounds continued, nearly every punch Marquez threw began finding its mark. Finally, a volley of shots sent Katsidis wobbling and defenseless, prompting referee Kenny Bayless to halt the bout at 2:14 of the ninth round.
"I'm not terribly disppointed,'' said Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs), who was fighting in memory of his older brother. "I went through a lot just to make it to this fight. I've got a big heart."
Marquez wasn't the only fighter Saturday night with a potential bout against Pacquiao on his mind.
Unbeaten welterweight Andre Berto threw his bid in for a date against Pacquiao with a one punch, first-round TKO of Freddy Henrnandez in a scheduled 12-round WBC title bout. Berto, from Winter Haven, Fla, lifted his record to 27-0 with his 21st knockout when referee Russell Mora determined Hernandez (29-2, 20 KOs) was not ready to continue after getting up from Berto's right cross to the chin. The official stoppage was 2:07 of the first round.
"I ate all the appetizers. I'm ready for the main course of the division,'' said Berto, who was asked about his future plans and made clear his preference for Pacquiao as his next opponent. "I'm definitely the best fight out there for him,'' Berto said. "They need somebody with speed, somebody who's young and strong who's strong for him."
In a junior lightweight bout, heavy underdog Jason Litzau (28-2, 21 KOs) opened the telecast by winning a 10-round split decis fashion against former bantamweight and featherweight beltholder Celestino Caballero (34-3, 23 KOs) of Panama. Litzau, from St. Paul, Minn., landed more solid punches to get the nod of two judges 96-94, 97-93 while the other judge had it 96-94 for Caballero.