Sometimes, on your terms, in the sport of boxing, there’s no better sound than, “And New!…” – and that’s what we heard Saturday Night, as the biggest fight in phase one in the Super Middleweight Six Man Tournament was completed. It was said that Andre Ward, Olympic gold medalist, who didn’t get the exposure and recognition over the past few years like an Oscar De la Hoya did, got the worst pick, when he was only 19 and O having to face then 41-1 two time WBA titlist Mikkel Kessler.
Before the tournament started, they decided to put Ward and Kessler on the same show, against two D level opponents, to get the audience warmed up. Even though Kessler dominated his foe, I saw something in the first fight, Ward’s, and that’s why I picked him, unlike most, to beat Kessler Saturday Night. I saw his speed and skill and on display, even against a no-hoper, it was brilliant, and I thought the speed will be the killer. It was. But so was some other stuff.
In the first round it looked even, both men feeling each other out. The second round I got to see why Kessler was so good, cutting off the ring brilliantly, but unable to put the pressure on Ward as he did other opponents, because Ward could move and not only that, score, as he did in the third, a straight right hand after a clinch hurt and shook up Kessler, and Kessler started holding on. And that’s when I knew… Ward has this. He would go on to throw the left right combo, but the speed in which he did it was the factor. Then you got to see it in the following rounds, as Ward outfoxed him, it showed on Kessler’s face, who was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and then from a punch, got a very deep gash over his left eye. After every round blood was flowing down his face – no one has ever seen Kessler like that. Then I thought Ward may have been talking to another former Olympian, Evander Holyfield, as he took a page from his book, and blatantly led with his head, into the head of Kessler, which opened a deep gash over his other eye, which would become the factor in the fight. It was ruled a head butt, but accidental, before round nine, I thought, alright, here we go, let’s see who takes off, and it was Ward. Kessler’s corner, which we heard through a translator told him, “You gotta knock him out.” That voice then would go in the following round to, “Do you want us to stop it?” Kessler fought on, deep gashes over both eyes, blood out of the nose and mouth, getting battered by Ward, and it was just a matter of time – in the 11th round, due to his corner man who didn’t want to see his fighter battered any more, he urged on the verdict of the referee, to stop the bout due to the cut – the cut caused by the head but.
Since it was ruled “accidental” it goes to the scorecards, and the scores were read, 98-92 twice, and 97-93 once, press row having it 98-92, “for the winner, and new WBA Super Middleweight Champion, Andre “S.O.G.” Ward. Joe Calzaghe, who retired at 46-0 and went out on top beating Hopkins and Jones didn’t beat Kessler as bad as young Ward did. Ward gets two points for the win, because it was a Technical Decision. If the cut was caused by a punch, he would have won by a Technical Knockout and got three points. But makes no mistake, there’s an undefeated champion here. “This is my time so let me have this moment. With Jesus Christ in your life anything is possible,” said the new champion, who started at 5-2 odds to win the tournament, while Kessler was favored to win. Kessler, like a bitter beaten man said it was all due to head butts by Ward, which was not the case. There were head butts, one may been intentional, but without them, Ward still beat him. Also, Kessler held a lot during the fight, which showed off Ward even better, by him fighting inside during those moments. Ward dictated the entire fight, and imposed his will on Kessler. Kessler got beat fair and square, you can’t lose the whole fight, having judges having you down by six points, because of a head butt, and Kessler went on about “the hometown referee” – I have seen some bad refs and some hometown refereeing, but even if the ref called the “only” head butt that was in question a foul, and took a point off of Ward, he would have still won. So stand up and say, “This kid beat me,” because Kessler was never in the fight.
This is a big moment. It’s a tournament win, which is big, but it’s also a gold medalist, undefeated, 21-0, winning his first title. Kessler falls to 42-2. So Phase One is over. And this is how it looks, with the point system.
Abraham – 3
Ward – 2
Froch – 2
Dirrell – 0
Kessler – 0
Taylor – 0
The top three with the points are undefeated. And this is what stage two looks like…
Abraham, 31-0 – Dirrell, 18-1
Froch, 26-0 – Kessler, 42-2, WBC Title
Ward, 21-0 – Taylor, 28-4-1 WBA Title
Robert Earle Stanton is a freelance writer, short fiction author and novelist.
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