Ward Takes WBA Title in Dominant Win Over Kessler
2004 Olympic medalist Andre Ward (21-0, 13 KOs) got the U.S. on board on Saturday (November 21) with a near shutout performance over Super Six tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler (42-2, 32 KOs).
Ward took control from round one, peppering Kessler with hard, long jabs and hooks from both orthodox and southpaw stances. The switch hitting kept Kessler confused, and whenever they exchanged it was Ward landing first with cleaner, harder punches due to his superior handspeed.
As the rounds mounted, Ward continued to outclass Kessler with sharp counter hooks, and also outgunned the Danish champion on the inside with roughhouse mauling. In round 3, Ward knocked Kessler back with several counter hooks off the champions slow, leaning jab.
By the 5th, Andre Ward had knockout on the brain and became more brazen with his attacks. The young Oakland native rushed forward with leaping hooks and left his chin periously high to get clipped by the powerful Kessler. However, Mikkel had been shellshocked from the previous rounds of stinging counters, and most times failed to time Ward with his vaunted right hand. Still, the skilled champion was able to briefly stop Wards attacks with 2 hard straight rights to the body.
Kessler built some brief momentum in the 6th, when he caught Ward rushing in with a thudding left hook. The challenger simply adjusted, and took the fight inside where the normally slick boxer Ward again roughed up Kessler with uppercuts in the clinches. By the 7th, Ward had completely regained control and was hitting Kessler at will with triple jabs, straight rights/lefts, and uppercuts from both orthodox and southpaw stances.
The situation became dire for Kessler following the 8th, when Wards aggressiveness caused a damaging headbutt that opened a jagged, gushing cut above the WBA champions left eye. Kessler said point blank in the corner he couldnt see, but refused to give up as some members of his corner suggested.
For the remainder of the fight, Kessler was comprehensively outclassed and failed to build any significant offense: partly from Wards speed and physicality, and also from the fact he could no longer see the punches due to the cuts. Another accidental clash of heads in the 10th ripped open Kesslers face, causing the disheartened Dane to focus on the ref for help.
Into the 11th, a hard Ward right hand prompted the referee to have the ringside physician view Kesslers cuts, which resulted in a stoppage for the cut caused on the accidental headbutt.
The rules dictate if an accidental headbutt stops a fight after four completed rounds, the bout is decided on the scorecards, where Andre Ward took a unanimous decision by the tallies of 98-92 (twice), and 97-93.
The impressive win was the first for an American in the Super Six super-middleweight tournament, and gave Ward his first major title since turning pro 5 years ago.
I felt like it was my time. I wasnt intimidated by Kesslers record, Ward explained in the post-fight interview. If God is with you, who can be against you? I was surprised he didnt make [any] adjustments. He kept doing the same thing over and over. But hes a super champion and I know why hes been champion for so long.
Kessler, his face cut to pieces from punches and butts, was still in shock after the loss and was reticent in giving praise to Ward.
Im not used to the referee not stopping the fight when theres holding. Every time he got in he headbutted me, Kessler stated. He hit me some times because it got me out of rhythm. It was unfair with the headbutts, the holding, and the hometown referee. He was coming in with his head all the time. I could not see in my eyes.
This bout completes the first round of the tournament. Next, Andre Ward will defend his newly won title against Jermain Taylor, who is seeking to get back to winning after back to back 12th round knockout losses. Mikkel Kessler faces Carl Froch, and Andre Dirrell takes on Arthur Abraham.
Andre Ward looked great last night and basically beat Kessler in every possible facet: outside, inside, workrate, power, aggression, and yes even the occasional dirty tactics (Wards 8th round charging headbutt was brutal). But considering the treatment Andre Dirrell received in Nottingham against Carl Froch, fighters must expect things like this when they fight in anothers hometown. And in the case of Ward-Kessler, the fight was not close whatsoever. Kessler would have lost regardless, the headbutts just added insult to injury.
Itll be interesting to see how Kessler rebounds against Carl Froch early next year. Previously, I felt he would KO Froch but after seeing how uncomfortable he was in being manhandled by Ward, my confidence has fallen in that prediction.
In the meantime, Andre Wards chances to win this tournament will remain high if he can keep his form from Saturday night. Jermain Taylor has a difficult task in front of him.
Mayweather Keeping Mosley as Backup in Pacquiao Talks
For months, Floyd Mayweather has remained dismissive whenever asked of a possible showdown with Shane Mosley, despite the two alternating between calling each other out for the last 5 years.
Now that preliminary talks between the camps of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have begun, Floyds side has been more vocal with their intentions if the negotiations stall or completely fall through.
If the fight cant be made, well fight Shane Mosley if he can get past Berto, said Mayweather adviser Leonard Ellerbe to the Los Angeles Times.
The main sticking point will be the purse split and which fighter is the bigger draw who deserves the lions share. After much posturing early on, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach have conceded to 50-50, while Mayweathers camp is insisting their man is entitled to a bigger slice of the pie.
Floyd is clearly the biggest star in boxing, based on the numbers against the same three common opponents. And all six of those fights were in a three year span, Ellerbe told the Grand Rapids Press. It wasnt any long period of time. This isnt difficult to figure out at all. Pacquiaos side has a distorted perception of facts. But numbers dont lie. People do. Pacquiao had good numbers, God bless him, but he had a dance partner [Cotto] this time.
The numbers Ellerbe alludes to are Mayweathers PPV figures against Oscar De La Hoya (2.4 million), Ricky Hatton (940,000), and his most recent comeback bout against Juan Manual Marquez (1 million). In comparison, Manny Pacquiao did respective PPV figures of 1.25 million, 825,000, and 400,000.
Pacquiaos side can point out that the Filipinos bout with Miguel Cotto beat Mayweathers last fight by grossing 1.25 million. However Floyds explaination is that Pacquiao only did marginally higher despite Cottos fanbase, and that he would have easily done more if he was the one that fought the Puerto Rican star.
The fight will happen, no matter what is said. HBO wont accept any other opponent, despite Mayweather throwing Mosleys name out there, and Pacquiaos team mentioning a third Marquez fight.
Bob Arum himself said it best earlier this week.
Its not so much that I give a damn whether this fight happens, I dont, and for me its not the greatest experience doing a promotion with Floyd Mayweather, Arum told the Associated Press. But not doing this fight would slow down the momentum of boxing.
Mythical Matchup of the Week: Sugar Shane Mosley vs. Hands of Stone Roberto Duran
Before they leapt to welterweight to secure the signature wins of their careers, Roberto Duran and Shane Mosley made their names among hardcore fight fans by terrorizing the lightweight division.
Duran was a nightmare opponent no matter your style. Boxers were systemically broken down with unrelenting, educated pressure. And sluggers were routinely outclassed on the inside courtesy of Robertos innate countering ability, rough fouls, and his skills in slipping/blocking punches.
On the other hand, Shane Mosley had simply too much speed and power for his opponents. After taking the IBF title via unanimous decision from Phillip Holiday in 1997, Mosley would make 8 defenses, all by knockout.
A big fan of Duran, Mosley spoke exclusively with Knockout Nation regarding how hed handle Durans legendary inside fighting and dogfight mentality.
I think that Id fight exactly how Sugar Ray Leonard did. Id be on my toes and use my boxing skills. I know hed come right at me. What would offset Roberto Duran would be my strength and my power, Shane Mosley explained in his Knockout Nation interview. He wouldnt be able to wrestle me because Im pretty good on the inside. Its funny you say him because I study his clips and were alike in a lot of ways. He can box as well as fight. The other day I watched his fight with Edwin Viruet. I picked up some different things in that fight. But the best fight probably wouldnt have been at welterweight. The best fight wouldve been at lightweight because we wouldve really rumbled [laughs].
You can see in the above quote Mosleys demeanor; even when he knows its more beneficial to box a particular opponent, the fighter in him cant pass up a brawl, hence his admission that he and Duran would have rumbled at lightweight. As soon as Duran caught him with a good counter, Mosley would be drawn into a hellacious battle on the inside much like his predecessor Sugar Ray Leonard was in 1980.
Sugar is correct, his physical strength will prevent him from being bullied and overwhelmed like some Duran opponents. However, Hands of Stone holds the skill advantage in the trenches, and will repeatedly catch Mosley from different angles with counter hooks. Mosley would flurry hard, blazing shots in retaliation, but more often than not Duran would be the one slipping those punches and landing the cleaner work inside.
Mosley would be in the fight the full 15 because of his toughness and iron chin, and would undoubtedly be Durans toughest test at lightweight, even more so than his classic trilogy with Esteban DeJesus.
My prediction is Roberto Duran wins a close decision in a classic war with scorecards in the 144-141 range over 15 rounds, and both men getting stunned/hurt several times.
Whats your prediction?