Katsidis, Khan waiting in the wings

LAS VEGAS -- Prefight news conferences in the Mandalay Bay normally take place in the bowels of the property, in the windowless media room in a corner of the arena.

This time around, Golden Boy brought the final conference for Saturday's Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz rematch into the light, in the airy surroundings of the hotel lobby, opening the proceedings to the eyes of tourists and fans as well as cynical hacks.

Standing near the back, largely out of view, two men watched with particular interest.

Australian lightweight Michael Katsidis looked to be painting himself into a corner as an exciting but limited slugger after back-to-back 2008 defeats to Diaz and Joel Casamayor [Casamayor faces Robert Guerrero on the undercard Saturday]. But since then four straight wins, capped by an impressive third-round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell in England in May, have placed him once more on the verge of title contention.

Katsidis will be the mandatory challenger for the winner of Saturday's main event but wouldn't be drawn on whom he picked.

"Look, I'm sitting on the fence for this fight," he told ESPN.com. "They're both very good fighters. But I'm a much better fighter than I was before, so either one of those guys would be a great fight for me.

"I think there may be a psychological advantage maybe against Juan Diaz, because he has been knocked out. But, having said that, this is his ticket back to the top of the game. So I'm sure he's at the top of his game. He looks very hard at the moment. He looks like he's in great shape for this fight -- better than I've ever seen him before."

A few feet away, junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan clearly had his eyes specifically focused on one of the two main event combatants.

"Yeah, definitely," Khan agreed when it was suggested that the veteran Marquez would be a particularly shining name on his r&#233;sum&#233;. "That's one of the reasons I came here. I want to see Marquez fight. We offered a fight to Marquez before I fought Paulie Malignaggi [in May] but he refused the deal, refused to fight. But if he wins this fight, I think he'd be a great opponent."

That, of course, assumes that a victorious Marquez would choose not to defend his belt against Katsidis but would instead to elect to move five pounds north, into Khan's weight division, a firmament littered with bright stars such as Devon Alexander, Timothy Bradley, Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz, Zab Judah and Guerrero.

It is far and away the deepest, most talented top tier in any weight division, and Khan knows as much.

"Every weight division has its era. It's been the heavyweights and the middleweights, and now it's the junior welters," he said. "You've got so many names in there and so many styles, and all young fighters in their primes. I think it's very exciting. It's the most exciting division. I think everyone knows that the 140-pound division is the best division to be in, and everyone wants to move up or down to be in it. I don't want to leave the division until I unify it. And I know by the time I unify the division, I'll be one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world."

According to Khan, he has given Golden Boy a list of names he would like to face.

"I'll fight anyone. I've told them the names I'd like to fight," he said. Pushed gently, two names apart from Marquez elicited particular interest.

"I'd like to fight [Marcos] Maidana to shut people up. With my boxing skills, I know I can beat him. I've got long leverage, long arms; I don't think he can cope with the speed and power. And seeing Timothy Bradley fight, he's made for my style. He's a lot shorter than me. He's never fought anyone as quick as me, anyone as strong as me. I think I'd be the first guy to beat him up and knock him out."