The sport of professional boxing is generally very hyped up, with a lot of debate centred around it. However, serious fighters won’t talk themselves up, but will keep in mind that actions speak louder than words, showing respect to their opponents. You won’t see these fighters in the media when they have no game to prepare for. They prefer to remain within their comfort zone; in the gym, training, preparing and calculating their next battle. Hence, it wasn’t an easy task to get Michael Katsidis to talk about his so-called ‘comeback’.
“The word comeback keeps coming about when I am being discussed lately, but I never left boxing. I never will.
“Talk is cheap when the bell rings,” says Australia’s long-time top-rated three-times World Champion Lightweight Professional Boxer – Michael Katsidis.
“A true gentleman of the sport never speaks out of school and remains focused entirely on the job.”
From a very young age, Katsidis took the hardest fights against the best fighters in his division, from all over the world, believing that he was destined to be a world champion boxer. After 20 solid years of extreme hard work, sacrifice, determination, dedication and most of all patience, Michael Katsidis keeps getting back up.
“I have endured many challenges in my professional boxing career in and out of the ring, but I have overcome every single one without a doubt,” Katsidis tells Neos Kosmos.
“I hold no regrets and just keep pushing forward, as I would rather be carried from a ring in pieces knowing I didn’t take the easy fight and gave all I had.”
Katsidis was in the media spotlight, though, not so long ago, in a court hearing that was literally broadcast all over the world, following a charge of burglary.
The case was dismissed as there was no evidence pointing to his involvement.
“To me, the media just wanted to take advantage of the story to increase views and readership based on an allegation,” he says.
“The whole thing was a waste of time and took preposterous dimensions even though neither myself nor my team ever commented on the matter.”
According to Michael, there was nothing to say.
“I do not speak of what I don’t know, so how could I speak of these allegations? I knew the truth would come to light eventually, even though it wouldn’t be an interesting read to discover I was training and boxing as opposed to committing burglary.”
Knowing that this could potentially ruin Michael’s career, especially with a very important international fight coming up and the possibility of it not going ahead due to bad press, Michael pushed through, moved to the UK and immediately went into training camp to continue fight preparations.
“I will be involved in boxing until I can no longer physically fight,” he says defiantly.
“This is my life; I train daily, get offers to fight in the ring every day, but for me it’s about strategy now,” he explains.
Katsidis knows for a fact that his next few fights need to count more than ever, so that he can get back into the Top 10 in the world rankings and cross-paw his way to another world title win.
“I believe that I am capable of doing it all over again, and I am prepared as always to put in the hard work to get the job done,” he says.
So what is next for Michael Katsidis? Another fight on Friday 20 March, at the Melbourne Pavilion.
“I cannot say too much yet but what I will say is that I will be bringing war as always,” he says, bursting with confidence, having put the buckle memories from his last fight aside.
“The last fight I had, that was a setback gone and passed.
“You win some, you lose some. But all in all I’m a good fighter and my trainer is very confident in my ability, too,” he adds.
“I believe my strength is a gift that, along with seeing people happy and pleased with what I do, keeps me going.”
He is, after all, looked upon as one of the most crowd-pleasing boxers of recent times.
“I enjoy pleasing my fans, but truth be told, I never set out to be an entertaining fighter and put on an image. I’m a professional,” he confesses.
“It is simply how I fight; the Greek way. Molon Lave!”
Katsidis makes sure his Greek heritage shows in every fight. He even has a tattoo on his back depicting the Vergina Sun, the symbol of the Greek state of Macedonia, from where he hails.
“My heritage has always been of great importance and pride to me, that is why my tattoo was done, ” he stresses.
“I honour that heritage and my ancestors with my Corinthian helmet and I am inspired by the great original warriors of Greece.”
The fighter acknowledges the support he has been receiving throughout the years from the Greek community as a whole.
“I fight for them as much as I do for myself, my family and Australia.
“One of my proudest moments was being honoured for my achievements in the town from which my family originates in Greece,” Katsidis goes on to add.
The fighter recently moved to Melbourne with his family, to be part of the largest Greek population outside of Greece.
“This is where my daughter’s life is going to be. I’m here because it’s like a little Greece.”
As a fighter though, training itself drives him to get in the gym each morning and perform better than the day before, to develop and change his style – which doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a building process that may take up to a year.
“I’m not a stupid man. If I felt that my health was in danger any more so than for the average guy who goes to work every day and goes to the pub every weekend, I wouldn’t do it,” he insists.
“My daughter is an enormous drive in life, as she is constantly in my mind and I want her to be proud when she’s old enough to understand my choices.”
Katsidis’ choice to fight again has been a subject of debate several times this year, with many commentators saying he is a palooka, unfit for the ring.
“I am not unrealistic about my age, but age is simply a number,” he says.
“My body is stronger than it has ever been, I am fitter, more focused, and more hungry for fights than I have been in years; I know, as does my trainer, that the best fights are still in me.”
Katsidis insists the media should stop looking at the ‘pen and paper’ and start looking at the positives instead, as Markus Beyer, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are older, but still able to take anyone down.
“I am open to constructive criticism, but what is constructive about certain people saying I should retire because, what, I lost my last fight?
“There’s no constructive criticism at all in this argument,” he underlines.
“I won a world title fight in just my third fight in June since I made a comeback in 2013. How do you win a world title in June when you’re meant to be retiring?”
Stepping out of the ring seems like a long way off for Michael and he feels he has the perfect fit for the long haul.
“I’m very happy training with Ray Giles and Julian Holland, both very well-respected all over Australia,” he says.
“Not to mention how happy I am to be eating ice-cream all day.”
Michael has been trying something new as well, apart from changing his fighting style. An Aussie-made gluten-free, fat-free, lactose and sugar-free ice-
With his next fight on 20 March in Melbourne, he is definitely going the distance.
“I’m on combination mode,” he says.
“I can finally give back to the large Greek family I have here which has been supporting my moves from the get-go.”
Good luck Michael.
For fight updates check www.katsidisthegreat.com.au