Ricky Burns to face Michael Katsidis
Scotland's Ricky Burns has vacated his junior lightweight belt and is moving up to lightweight to face Australian brawler Michael Katsidis for a vacant interim belt on Nov. 5 in London, promoter Frank Warren announced.
"I'm motivated by challenges and facing a top name like Michael Katsidis has really got me excited," Burns said. "He's been in the ring with some of the best in the business like Juan Manuel Marquez and he's well known to the fans (in England) after his wins against (Graham) Earl and (Kevin) Mitchell.
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"Katsidis comes to have a war, but so did Roman Martinez when I won the world title. Against a fighter that comes to have a fight, I put on my best performance."
Warren had been negotiating with Golden Boy Promotions for Burns to defend his belt in the United States on HBO on Nov. 26 against mandatory challenger Adrien Broner. But Burns (32-2, 9 KOs), having problems continuing to make 130 pounds, elected to move up to 135 and relinquished his title.
"The time is right for me to move up a division as I have been making (130 pounds) for years and it was getting more and more difficult, so when the opportunity to fight Katsidis for the (interim) title came up it was an offer I didn't want to miss," Burns said.
"He's seen what Katsidis has done to Earl and Mitchell over here so he's got to really prepare for him," Warren warned. "Katsidis, who comes in (wearing a) gladiator (costume) and fights like one too, has got a perfect record against the Brits so Ricky could cause a big upset."
Katsidis (28-4, 23 KOs), known for his numerous all-action fights, stopped Earl in the fifth round of an all-time slugfest in London in 2007 in an interim title bout. In 2010, Katsidis returned to London and knocked out previously undefeated Mitchell in the third round in another interim title bout.
After beating Mitchell, Katsidis lost his next two fights in a row, getting knocked out by Marquez and losing a lopsided decision to Robert Guerrero in the United States. He returned to Australia for a third-round knockout of Michael Lozada in August.
"England is like my second home now and it's great to come back to the Wembley Arena where I had a fantastic battle with Graham Earl," Katsidis said. "I've beaten the two English guys in Earl and Kevin Mitchell, so now Scotsman Ricky Burns is stepping up to fight me and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"Ricky's a good strong world champion at (junior lightweight), but he's in for a whole new world against me. He's never faced anyone like me who will be coming at him all night, constantly throwing punches."
Also on the card, British and Commonwealth super middleweight champion George Groves (13-0, 10 KOs) meets former "Contender" participant Paul Smith (31-2, 17 KOs). The fight will be Groves' first since his decision win against bitter rival and 2008 Olympic gold medalist James DeGale in May in a heavily hyped showdown.
Smith's last defeat came via ninth-round knockout to DeGale in December, although he has won two in a row since.
"This will be a great fight. Smith will be hungry to win back his British title and this could be his last chance," Groves said. "I am fully focused on the task at hand. I worked hard to win these belts and I don't plan on giving them up any time soon. I am prepared and ready to go to war with Smith."
Dan Rafael is the senior boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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