Press Release: Ward’s Promoter Dan Goossen Calls Kessler the Favorite; But Kessler Promoter Kalle Sauerland Doesn’t See It That Way
It was a day of many answered questions as World Boxing Association (WBA) super middleweight champion Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler and hometown undefeated hero Andre “S.O.G” Ward met face-to-face and then with Bay Area media followed by a national conference call on Thursday.
Kessler and Ward will take part in the first Super Six World Boxing Classic match in the United States on Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). The scheduled 12-rounder will be for Kessler’s WBA 168-pound title and is a first-round matchup in Group Stage 1.
“The favorite in this tournament is Kessler,” Ward’s promoter Dan Goossen, President of Goossen Tutor Promotions said on the media conference call. “There’s no doubt about it. As a matter of fact, the experts have already made their picks: Kessler, (Arthur) Abraham, (Carl) Froch, Jermain Taylor, and then it’s Ward and (Andre) Dirrell, the two young pups. So it’s a big challenge for America right now. But Ward’s going to be up to the task and I think at the end of the day there will be two Americans left standing in that inaugural World Boxing Classic Championship bout.”
Kessler’s promoter Kaller Sauerland of Sauerland Events wouldn’t tab his fighter as the favorite. “I don’t think there’s any favorite in this tournament,” he said. “You’ve got six of the best super middleweights. Mikkel’s got to travel to California which speaks volumes about the kind of boxer Mikkel is. For him to travel into this guy’s backyard with a chance to take away his title … Again, it just speaks volumes to what this tournament means to the guys involved.”
KEN HERSHMAN From the Conference Call
“We’re super-charged and super-excited about our upcoming Super Six tournament. We got through our tune-ups fights and Mikkel’s mandatory fight unscathed and everyone came out OK and everyone is ready to go for Nov. 21. We’re looking to the Oracle Arena being completely full and know that Andre Ward is going to need every bit of those fans to help him after what we saw from Mikkel Kessler this past Saturday night. He looked terrific and comes into this tournament as the odds-on favorite, but we’ll see. He certainly has his hands full against the Olympic Gold Medalist. Andre Ward has never lost a fight and doesn’t know how to lose. I think we’re going to see fireworks on Nov. 21.”
ANDRE WARD From Press Conference:
“This fight is being called an event and I like that because it is actually being seen for what it is. The Bay Area is excited about this great event.
“The fact that it is part of the Super Six World Boxing Classic and the fact that it is in my hometown against a reigning champion that is very skillful adds a lot of pressure. He is a tough fighter and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Personally, I feel that God constantly puts me in this position where he puts me against the toughest opponents to start. It happened this way in the Olympics too. I relish the best because I desire to be the best. I have sacrificed a lot to be here. I embrace the pressure because it causes me to take my fight to another level. I believe that I am going to get the hardware and I will represent my city well.
“I am taking on the toughest opposition and it suits me fine because I haven’t fought any slouches and there is a reason for that. Had I slacked up with my past opponents, I would lose. But I understood what kind of fighters I was facing. I knew that they were all tough … Just as I know this to be true about Kessler too. I know how to roll with the punches.”
“I think speed is one of my many keys that I will have to bring to the table in order to beat Mikkel Kessler.”
“It’s like Tony Dungy said: When you get to the Super Bowl, there’s no time to change the style. No drastic changes will be needed.”
“The focus is winning the fight. I don’t look for the KO. However, I’ll step on the gas if the opportunity arises.
“It is easy for the public to pick the Europeans as the favorites because that is the safe pick, but they should go out on a limb and pick an American.
“I am going to show the world what I know is deep down. They don’t realize the power of my shot, but this fight will showcase just that.
“A major key in my fight against Kessler will be my feet. I will have a lot of movement.
“It shouldn’t matter what the order is of the fighters that you fight. You have to be prepared no matter who your next opponent is.
“My main focus is to stay in the moment. When I found out that I was to fight Kessler, there was no draw back. Every fighter needs to believe that he will be the last man standing. If you believe that then the order of which fighter you have to take on first won’t matter.”
ANDRE WARD From Conference Call:
“I’m just so excited. I mean, this is the opportunity that young fighters dream of and this is my opportunity to show the world that I not only want to win this tournament, but I want to be the reigning champion once I hang my gloves up.
“I think about the (world championship) belt every day. I’m so passionate about winning a world championship that sometimes when I talk about it it brings tears to my eyes because I know it’s my destiny—to be a world champion and not just an overnight sensation.
“You beat a guy like Mikkel Kessler and it is going to send shock waves through the boxing world and send shock waves through the Super Six. No one really believes I can win this fight. Some people are picking me and some people think I can pull it off, but really most people think he’s going to win and I love that. That’s what it’s all about. Because when I do pull it off it’s going to send that kind of impact through the Super Six Tournament and throughout the boxing world.”
“I don’t think there’s any huge problems he poses for me. Anytime you fight a great fighter they pose a different set of problems.”
MIKKEL KESSLER From the Press Conference:
“I have never fought a fighter who was so nice such as Andre Ward. He is a strong and fast fighter who can change his fight from right to left. We are both confident that we can win. I don’t see myself as the favored; this makes me give it my all.
“I am going to show everyone that I am the champion. The fact that I have to come all the way over here was just a bad negotiation, but I want people to know that I am not afraid of fighting out of my hometown. I will be the champion not only of this fight but of the tournament.
“The only thing that I believe with this fight is myself. I don’t care what people predict. I know what I am made of.
“Being favored makes puts a lot of pressure on me because you have to win convincingly, but I am used to it. Also, coming over here is big pressure too. Although it is Andre’s hometown and he is a big name out here, it is a big opportunity. I am fighting the best fighters in the tournament. After this fight I will be hungrier in the second and third fights.
“I don’t know the word losing. I have double the experience Ward does. I learned a lot from my last fight, and I’m stronger.”
“I will bring my strength and dedication to the tournament and especially to this fight against Andre. I will win on November 21.”
MIKKEL KESSLER From the Conference Call:
“We had a great press conference today. I’ve got a lot of excitement in my stomach and I’m ready to fight on the 21st of November. When you travel so far you get even more excited to win. The Super Six is a dream come true and I think I can speak for all of us on that.
“I see Ward as a very difficult fighter. He doesn’t know how it is to lose. But I have more experience than he does. I have seen many of his fights and I know he is desperate to win. He can change his style from right handed to left handed, so I have a lot of respect for him.”
DAN GOOSSEN From the Press Conference Call:
“This is a really distinct event. I believe it is the future of boxing and the sport. I believe Andre Ward will be the eventual winner of the tournament.
“What makes Andre more impressive and tough to beat is his strength outside the ring. He’s Oakland’s own the world will take him as their own. This 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist will be the winner.”
DAN GOOSSEN From the Conference Call:
“Right now with Ward and Kessler it’s like having the Dodgers and the Yankees or Lakers and Celtics having their press conference. They were real respectful with one another but we know come Nov. 21 they’re going to break into a brawl.”
KALLE SAUERLAND From the Conference Call:
“The winner of this tournament will be a boxing legend, really. The winner will have taken on the five other best fighters in the world in this division. We’re just really looking forward to it.”
VIRGIL HUNTER (Ward’s Trainer) From the Press Conference
“This is a blessing come true. I have been reflecting about when I first met Andre at the age of 9. When I began training him I had predicted that he would win the Gold Medal in the Olympics. This is a journey as much as it is a career for Andre. I get this feeling that this tournament is happening here because it is meant to be here.”
Photo Credits: SE/Goossen Tutor