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Saturday, November 21, 2009

WARD DOMINATES KESSLER, CAPTURES WBA CROWN

The first round of Showtime's "Super Six" Tournament has now been completed as Andre Ward (21-0, 13 KO's) defeated Mikkel Kessler (42-2, 32 KO's) by an 11th round technical decision to capture the WBA Super Middleweight title. The official judges scored the bout 98-92 twice and 97-93 for Ward. With the victory, Ward acquired 2 points in the tournament. I scored the bout 99-91 for Ward.

Beginning in the 1st round, Ward dictated the pace of this fight using an effective left jab and lateral movement that kept Kessler from landing quality punches. Kessler was aggressive in the 2nd round as he charged forward with a strong left jab. However, Ward was too slick as he landed a clean left uppercut in close quarters and followed it with a hard overhand right. As the fight went into the 3rd round, Kessler did not throw his jab enough and Ward took full advantage of it. Ward threw a flurry, landing an overhand right after he fired the jab. Then, Ward landed a solid right and followed it with a crisp left hook that connected on Kessler's chin.

In the 4th round, Ward used the jab to set up his left hook. Kessler landed a left hook-overhand right combination. Ward countered by stinging Kessler with a sharp right cross. Next, Ward switched to a southpaw stance and nailed Kessler with a straight left. Kessler did well in the 5th round, scoring with left hooks and connecting with a right to the body that pushed Ward back. Ward was a little less aggressive this round, but scored early with a left hook and overhand right that caused swelling under Kessler's right eye.

Ward picked up the pace again in the 6th round. Kessler scored with a left hook. Ward lunged forward with his punches and then connected with another left uppercut in close range. His left jab started to force Kessler to move backward. Kessler appeared not to see Ward's punches coming at him as the fight moved into the 7th round. Ward landed a right cross and was controlling distance extremely well. Ward was successful going to the body with the left hook. Kessler fired a left hook back, but was met with another right cross from Ward.

Ward kept firing the jab in the 8th round and followed it with many right hand shots. He landed another left uppercut inside. Kessler really started to miss with his punches. After he missed with his shots, Ward landed a big right that forced Kessler back. Ward continued to beat Kessler to the punch as the fight went into the 9th round. Ward peppered Kessler's face with some more right-left combinations. Kessler caught Ward with a solid left hook, but suffered a cut over his left eye due to an accidental clash of heads.

By the 10th round, Kessler was really showing the effects of the punishment Ward was dishing out. Ward was nailing Kessler with very hard, accurate jabs, right crosses and left hooks. As Ward came forward, another clash of heads took place. Kessler now had cuts above both eyes and another cut on his right cheekbone. When Ward connected with a lead right hand in the 11th, referee Jack Reiss stopped the bout due to the cuts on Kessler's face. However, the bout went to the scorecards because Reiss ruled the cut resulted from the accidental clash of heads that transpired earlier in the bout.

In some people's minds, Andre Ward may now be the favorite to win the "Super Six" Tournament. I originally picked Ward to take a decision tonight, but I did not expect it to happen the way it did. His hand speed was too much for Kessler and may overwhelm his other opponents when he moves forward in the tournament. If Ward can control the range like he did tonight by utilizing his left jab and using his superior boxing ability, he probably will be too much for anyone in the "Super Six" to handle. Ward's next opponent will be Jermain Taylor, who has lost 4 of his last 5 bouts with 3 losses coming by knockout. Ward won a 2004 Olympic gold medal in Athens, Greece in the Light Heavyweight division.

The point scoring system of the Super Middleweight Tournament is as follows:

Train your hands with boxing gloves by Everlast and Ringside.

Each fighter will have the opportunity to compete against one another in a series of scheduled twelve round bouts during the first three “Group Stages” of the tournament. There is also a point system in place:
A win is 2 points (with a 1-point bonus for a KO/TKO).
A draw is 1 point for each fighter. A loss equals 0 points.
The four highest point scorers will move on to the semifinal rounds, while the two fighters with the least point totals will be eliminated. The winners of the semifinal bouts will meet in the final round of the championship series in early 2011.
Stage 2 of the tournament will match Andre Dirrell against Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler against Carl Froch and Jermain Taylor against Andre Ward.

At the moment, Arthur Abraham has acquired 3 points for his 12th round knockout victory over Jermain Taylor. Carl Froch has received 2 points for his 12 round split decision win over Andre Dirrell.

In Stage 3, Andre Dirrell will face Andre Ward, Carl Froch will take on Arthur Abraham and Jermain Taylor will battle against Mikkel Kessler.

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