Katsidis up for 'Hammer Time'

Michael 'The Gladiator' Katsidis is looking forward to fighting for his life in front of a baying East End crowd on Saturday night.

The Australian (26-2) will take on local favourite Kevin 'The Hammer' Mitchell (31-0) for the interim WBO world lightweight title at the Boleyn Ground.

The duo will headline the 'Hammer Time' show, which will also feature a mouth-watering heavyweight title bout between Danny Williams and unbeaten Derek Chisora, Olympic Gold medallist James DeGale challenging for the first title in his career - the WBA international super-middleweight championship, and Britain's hottest young prospects Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders.

There is no doubt that lifelong West Ham United fan Mitchell's meeting with Katsidis is the main event, however, and the Toowoomba-born fighter is itching to step into the ring.

Katsidis met Mitchell at the stadium last week and again at Sunday's 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Manchester City.


"It feels fantastic to be here and this is the first time I've been in a soccer stadium. Looking around, there is a great feeling about the place and I'm enjoying the run-in and looking forward to 15 May.

"I am very excited. The last time I fought in England, there were about 10,000 people at Wembley Arena and there were a lot of people were passionate and screaming for the person that I fought - Graham Earl [in February 2007]. There was a big old boo when I walked out, but the one thing I can say is that every single person walked out of there happy and it was a great fight. It was great to see so many passionate people respecting and appreciating two fighters giving it their all.

"We've got 30,000 coming here to West Ham and it's just going to be fantastic. The atmosphere is going to be great.

"Regardless of who there are rooting for, the way I am as a fighter, I just think it is fantastic that you have so many people passionate about boxing. What a great country and a great culture. I've never seen anything like it These people are very passionate and I'm very excited about getting out there."

Although not a football fan himself, the Thailand-based boxer is aware of the history of the club, of the sport and of the stadium that hosted England's international friendly with Australia in February 2003.

While the vast majority of fight fans will be in Mitchell's corner, Katsidis is hoping the large expatriate Australian and Greek communities living in London will turn out to give him some support.

"Australia is always in my corner and I also have the Greek bloodline. I'm half-Greek and I wear my heart on my sleeve when I fight. If you are out there, please come along to support me! Whoever does come along, though, I'm going to go out there and do my best.

"I believe, regardless of if they are going for Kevin and hate me, I think they'll love it by the end of the fight, anyway. I'm just going to give it my all and everyone will enjoy their night and fall in love with boxing. I think boxing and soccer combined is a great thing."