Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
Ward upsets Kessler
His only loss was to the undefeated Joe Calzaghe. Kessler was hoping to use this tournament to make a name for himself as the best Super Middleweight.
Both Ward and Kessler came into this bout with reputation as smooth boxers but they had enough pop in their punch to hurt each other, so this bout promised to be intriguing.
When two boxers meet, it could be a stinker as both treat the bout as a chest match or both could throw caution to the wind. In the first round, Ward started jabbing while occasionally switching from orthodox to southpaw.
Kessler began to cut off the ring and force Ward to fight off the rope on one occasion. He played pursuer in a round that was close, but Ward may have won the round with couple of clean shots.
In the second round, Ward moved around to look for a place to place his left hook as Kessler continued to move forward and started to jab more. He missed with many solid shots but his ability to cut off the ring forced Ward on the rope.
Ward ended the round with a couple of solid rights and won the fight as results of throwing the cleaner punches. The third round began with him landing with a couple of jabs followed by a left hook and right hand.
His quick hands allowed him to score with big shots and Kessler looked perplexed as he could not get into a rhythm against the younger American. Ward found a home with his right and while his power shots failed to move Kessler, he could not counter the faster Ward.
With a minute left in the fourth round, Kessler nailed Ward with a left hook but Ward came back with a huge right that shook Kessler and then 20 seconds later, he followed with another right that briefly buckled Kessler’s knee.
As he went back to his corner, a mouse developed under Kessler’s right eye. Ward finally showed that he could hurt Kessler. He continued his assault in the fourth round as Ward’s left jab set Kessler for left hooks and solid right hands.
Kessler showed life in the final minute of the fifth round as his jab finally found its target and right hand punches nailed Ward to the body. Whether it was enough to win the round was another question, but Kessler showed that he was still dangerous.
Another aspect that developed in Kessler’s favorite was Ward sloppy attacks as he started to lunge toward him and on got countered by a Kessler left hook in the sixth round.
As the sixth round ended, Ward became the pursuer and Kessler retreated. At this point in the fight, the case could have been made that Ward have won all of the rounds.
While Ward had the fight under control, he took many chances that gave Kessler his opportunity. He began the seventh round with a series of combinations beginning with his jab as Kessler occasionally threw wild desperate shots to turn the fight around.
Ward attacked Kessler’s body and the Danish fighter looked like he was weakening in the eighth round. Ward nailed Kessler with an overhand right that sent him reeling back and open up a severe cut over his left eye.
Subsequent replays may have shown a clash of head may have caused the cut, but it was ruled a cut caused by a punch. Kessler complained to his corner that he couldn’t see and going into ninth round, his corner told him that only a knockout could save him.
Kessler started to hold Ward to survive and when he held, he allowed Ward to work his body. As he turned around and walked to his corner, he looked like a fighter ready to go.
Yet in the 10th round, Kessler got a few solid shots to show that he was alive but Ward got the better of the exchanges. For Kessler, he wanted to stay standing at the end of the fight and not give him an additional point in the tournament.
Like Vikings of yore, Kessler determined that he would go out on his shield as he moved out for the 11th round. With a minute and half left, the referee stopped the fight after Ward nailed Kessler with yet another big right that reopened the cut.
In the previous round, he suffered another cut due to a head butt and the fight went to the scorecard since the cut that caused the fight to be stopped was due to a head butt; the referee ruled it must go to the scorecard.
The judges had the fight 97-93, 98-92, 98-92 for Ward as he became the WBA world champion and became the first American to win in the Super Six tournament.
This may have been the biggest upset because Kessler was easily the heavy favorite against Ward and he was one of the big favorites to win the whole tournament.
Ward’s victory turns the tournament around as Kessler was not just beaten but beaten badly and Kessler will now face a tough brawling Carl Froch. As for Ward, he faces Jermain Taylor, a good boxer-puncher but who has lost four out of last five fights including three by knockouts.
He’s now positioned himself as being the best American Super Middleweight and showed the world that he is no longer a potential champion but a champion.