Days before they collide in the first Super Six World Boxing Classic Group Stage 1 bout in America, World Boxing Association (WBA) super middleweight champion Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler of Denmark and undefeated Andre “S.O.G” Ward of Oakland participated in a free public workout Monday at King’s Gym in Oakland.
Kessler, whose WBA super middleweight title will also be on the line, will enter the ring for the 12-round match at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast), with a record of 42-1 with 32 knockouts . Ward is 20-0 with 13 knockouts.
The Europeans held serve in the opening Group Stage 1 fights Oct. 17 on SHOWTIME, Arthur Abraham knocking out Jermain Taylor and Carl Froch outpointing Andre Dirrell in Germany and England, respectively.
Tickets, priced at $300, $150, $65 and $35, are available at the Oracle Arena Box office Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and fight day starting at 10 a.m., online at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com), by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000, or through Ticketmaster outlets at the following outlets: select Macy’s stores and select Ritmo Latino stores. All information can be obtained at www.ticketmaster.com.
The event is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions and Sauerland Event in association with Antonio Leonard Productions. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. PT. The first non-televised fight is at 5 o’clock.
What the fighters and their promoters had to say Monday:
“Ward is a real gentleman. He doesn’t talk trash. The best fighters I have fought are like him. It’s going to be a great fight on Saturday night.
“He’s a great, young fighter. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was his age. I won my first world title at 24, but I’m more experienced in a lot of different ways. I can see that he is hungry, has good speed and good technique. He’s a good fighter.
“I think my strengths are also speed and my experience. I have double the fights he has and I have had a lot of big fights.
“You can pick things up from all kinds of bouts. We all have different skills. I don’t see all of the big fights (in the United States) because I am busy and it’s more difficult (to see them) in Europe, but we have good fights in Europe, too.
“I have a lot of things to do (during his down time in fight week). There are places that I like to eat; I have to do a lot of media events. The more time off I have, the more I have to relax and watch movies.”
On tapering off closer to the fight
“You relax a little bit and you don’t have to train twice a day anymore. I will go for a half an hour or an hour a day and that’s it.
“I’m not the kind of guy who watches tape. I watched some of his fights a couple times and we talked about it. I’m well prepared.”
“People are often surprised when they fight me. You see one thing and get in the ring and see something different. (Edison) Miranda told me in the locker room after the fight that he thought I would be a lot easier than I was and I’ve heard that a lot during my career, even going back to the amateurs. I have no idea what it is about my style, but they would hear I was the No. 1 guy and see me fight and say ‘that’s Ward?’ We do it in such a way that it looks easy until they get in the ring with me.
“This is what it’s all about, I’ve been at the highest level as an amateur and now I’m preparing for my first world title fight as a professional. I see all you guys (media on hand) and I know what a big fight is all about. I’m ready.”
On Fighting at Home
“It’s incredible to have this fight at home and the support here has been outstanding. A lot of people say that boxing is dead in Oakland. There used to be two or three gyms full of boxers here. Boxing was a huge thing and to see the excitement for this fight here in Oakland and in the Bay Area and to give them something positive to support, I’m excited about that.
“As the fight gets closer, I draw into myself more. I envision what it would feel like to leave the arena with the belt and what it would feel like to leave without the belt. I’m doing everything I can to leave the Oracle Arena with the WBA strap on Saturday night.
“I’m eating just fine. We don’t do sauna or anything like that. I’m doing OK on weight, but I am looking forward to the weigh-in.
“We’ve had a game plan for the past nine weeks, since the last fight. We have a general plan but at the end of the day, it’s going to be about getting in there and being myself, being Andre Ward. The days that you go in there and try to be perfect are usually your worst days, but the days that you go in there and say I’m going to have fun and do what I do are generally your best.
“We go back and look at every fight. We saw mistakes in the Miranda fight and we’ve corrected those.’’
On tapering down close to the fight
“As far as the physical side, things have toned down. We are at our peak. It is tempting for a fighter to over-prepare. I don’t think we’ve done that. I think we are right where we need to be. That comes with experience. This is my 21st fight and we’re beginning to master all of the aspects of preparing for a fight from the weight to handling media appearances.’’
In response to Kessler’s trainer saying Andre doesn’t like to get hit
“I don’t think anybody likes to get hit. Miranda hit me more than I would have liked in my last fight. but I responded and came right back. Who has hit Mikkel Kessler clean? Who has really caught him so we could see what his chin is really like? Joe Calzaghe isn’t a puncher.”
PROMOTER DAN GOOSSEN OF GOOSSEN TUTOR PROMOTIONS
“This is just like Andre Ward’s run to the gold medal, but in the pro ranks. On his path to gold, no one gave him a shot, everyone else was the favorite, and this is the same situation. They are all picking Kessler and for good reason — he’s a great, experienced champion. We have all the confidence in the world that Saturday night will make history.
“He’s (Ward) very smart in the ring. He knows when to jab, he knows when to move and he does it with speed. Experience is great against someone who hasn’t experienced everything Andre learned at the Olympics.
“All you have to do is have your hand raised at the end of the night and when he does, his demeanor will come back ten-fold. Andre is going to make being classy fashionable.”
PROMOTER WILFRIED SAUERLAND OF SAUERLAND EVENT
“For me there are three favorites to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic – Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward. It will be important to start the group stages with a victory. Obviously, Ward has the tremendous advantage of fighting at home – that is a big help.
“Ward has a tremendous unbeaten run. His Olympic gold medal as well as his professional record speak volumes about his class. He is certainly a very special fighter but one does not know where his boundaries are. He has never been tested and he has never fought someone like Mikkel, so Saturday will be Ward´s first big test.
“In my opinion the difference between the two fighters is Mikkel´s huge experience and also his
well-known punching power. So for me Kessler is the favorite but only just as you cannot be too sure because we don´t know where Ward is at and what his limits are.
“Obviously for Mikkel, Saturday´s fight will be as important as the clash against Calzaghe and I am sure he will make a great fight.”
See the rest of the Andre Ward vs. Mikkel Kessler Workout Photos.
Photo: Jan Sanders/Goossen Tutor Promotions