Check out our Kessler vs. Ward preview and prediction before the big fight on November 21!
Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward rounds out stage 1 of the Super Six tournament. This fight puts two very skilled fighters with excellent boxing technique in the ring opposite one another. Below I’ll preview the main aspects of this potential fight of the year and let you know who is going to win the Kessler vs. Ward match and why.
Kessler vs. Ward Hype
Andre Ward, the young unbeaten American (20-0) will come into the fight as the challenger against the once beaten Dane, Mikkel Kessler, for Kessler’s WBA Super-Middleweight title. Kessler, although the betting favorite coming into the tournament will face potentially his stiffest challenge of the round-robin as he will have to travel to Oakland for this fight, Ward’s hometown. Team Kessler agrees as Kessler’s trainer Richard Olsen has discussed openly that he believes Ward will show the most resistance against Kessler’s path to the tournament championship. It’s not easy to win a decision in an opponent’s backyard so Kessler may be feeling the heat to finish this fight before the final bell.
While Kessler may be feeling additional pressure as the tournament favorite and visiting fighter, Ward has to deal with some ulterior pressure as well. The underlying rivalry between Europe and America in this tournament has seen the European fighters win both Stage 1 matchups thus far. Abraham received three points for his KO of Jermain Taylor and Carl Froch received two points for his decision win over Andre Dirrell. Many people around boxing felt that the two young Americans (Dirrell and Ward) may be in too deep and with Dirrell coming up short in his fight, Ward will be the last hope to put America on the board before Stage 2 begins.
Kessler vs. Ward Preview
How do the two fighters stack up with one another?
As mentioned above, Kessler does have a blemish on his very impressive 42-1 record. It came at the hands of the future first ballot HOF’er Joe Calzaghe. While Calzaghe was able to win a close but clear decision, it’s important to note that Kessler was very competitive in this fight and even though the end result was not what Kessler wanted, his stock went up in many people’s eyes because of the valiant performance he put forth against what many believe to be an all time great. Kessler’s most impressive win was a schooling of previously undefeated Librado Andrade where Kessler won every round on all three judge’s scorecards. On that night, Kessler proved to be a special fighter.
Andre Ward comes into this fight 5 years younger than Kessler (25 vs. 30) and his overall resume shows this. Ward spent his first few years beating up fighters far below his level. Ward’s breakout performance came in May of 2009 against title contender Edison Miranda. Miranda is a very tough fighter whose only losses have come against champions Arthur Abraham and Kelly Pavlik. Fellow title contender and Super-Six alternate Allan Green’s only loss came at the hands of Miranda. On that night Ward used his superior technique and counter punching ability to beat Miranda to the punch, earning himself a wide unanimous decision and showing the world that Andre Ward was ready to contend for a title. While Kessler hadn’t beaten anyone near Miranda’s stature at the age of 25, Kessler’s overall resume is still more impressive at this point.
Ward is not a big puncher. That’s just not where he excels. Miranda was able to withstand a lot of punishment form Ward whereas if it has been Kessler throwing those punches, Miranda would have been on the canvas. Kessler has an impressive 32 KO’s in his 42 victory whereas Ward has only managed 13 KO’s in his 20 fights. Ward has only finished one of his last three opponents inside the distance while Kessler is a perfect 3/3 in terms of KO’s since his loss to Calzaghe. For Ward to be successful he’s going to need to muster up enough power to keep Kessler off him. Either way, Kessler takes this category running away.
Both fighters have quick hands and hold the distinction as top tacticians of the sport. However, the fight with Calzaghe showed that a slick fighter can beat Kessler to the punch if he’s accurate enough with his combinations. Ward is not only a very accurate counterpuncher but he can do it from both sides. Ward is equally effective in both the orthodox and the southpaw position and that makes him very hard to deal with. Look for Ward’s excellent speed and his dual-positioned fighting to be the key for him in this fight. If Kessler is able to neutralize Ward’s speed, it could be a long night for Ward. Ward edges Kessler in this one.
Both guys are tough. No doubt about it. Kessler has been through 43 fights and fought hard in every one of them. However, since his defeat at the hands of Calzaghe in 2007 Kessler has only fought 3 times, none of which were against opponents anywhere close to that of Calzaghe, or even Ward for that matter. Even in his most recent win against Gusmyr Perdomo Kessler looked unimpressive. Has he lost some of that edge he had before he fought “The Pride of Wales”? Part of the problem was Kessler’s issues with his promotion company but I think everyone in the boxing world expected more from Kessler in the last year. It’s something to consider at the very least.
Before the Miranda fight many people questioned Ward’s toughness and his ability to fight under adversity or with a cut. Well, a head butt in the early partition of the fight courtesy of Miranda put that speculation to the test. Ward passed with flying colors. He never stepped away from his gameplan and the cut, which Ward’s team had to work on the entire match, never seemed to be a factor or influence Ward whatsoever. He also mentioned it in the post game reference “I think I answered some of those questions tonight”. He certainly did.
Kessler vs. Ward Prediction
Kessler comes into this fight as a strong betting favorite. This mainly stems from Kessler’s experience advantage. Ward, like Dirrell, has never fought on a stage where the lights will be as bright as they will be on November 21st. However, I think location plays a major role in determining a winner. If this fight was in Denmark, I would pick Kessler by wide decision but just as Dirrell was handed a controversial decision loss in Froch’s native Nottingham, it will be very difficult for Kessler to leave Oakland with a win if it goes the full 12 and I don’t see Ward getting KO’d in this fight.
This fight is a virtual toss up in my mind, one fighter is going to leave with a split decision win and many will feel that the other man should have won. I look for there to be a lot of exchanging in this fight where both combatants have their moments. Look for both men to get wobbled at least once and perhaps one of them hits the canvas. Neither guy is going to back down for one moment so expect a great fight. I’m going to make three predictions:
- The winner of this fight wins the Super-Six tournament.
- Kessler by SD.