Ward Defeats Kessler With Impressive Performance

November 22, 2009

Oakland, California -- Oracle Arena was the site of a raucous affirmation of Andre Ward's status as one of the fight game's most exciting and promising athletes. His convincing win over WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler now makes him the favorite to win the Super Six Tournament, and places him squarely among the elite fighters in his division.

While the Oakland crowd was overwhelmingly in support of Ward, cheering every time he threw a punch let alone landed one, even the most objective and detached ringside observer would have to conclude that Kessler was outclassed and outworked Saturday night.

Ward's speed and punching power seemed to genuinely surprise Kessler, and his versatility - the ability to fight comfortably from both conventional and southpaw stances, and to fight either as the aggressor or counterpuncher - prohibited Kessler from executing any preconceived game plan.

I awarded every round to Ward, and while one might argue that stretches of the second, fifth, and ninth rounds could be called even, an observer would be hard pressed to identify any part of a round that could be awarded to Kessler.

Here is the round-by-round breakdown of the action:

Round 1

Ward and Kessler both come out relatively cautiously. Ward starts much as he did in the Miranda fight - measuring Kessler and establishing his range. Ward switches to a southpaw stance and goes backward, and Kessler shows his ability to cut off the ring. Ward uses his jab more effectively than Kessler, and lands a good lead left hook.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 2

Ward comes out much more aggressively in Round Two, throwing more jabs than in the previous round. Kessler also throws more jabs, and seems intent upon working the body. This round could be called even, but Ward steals it first by winning an exchange with 20 seconds left in the round, and secondly, by landing a good right hand at the bell.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 3

Ward continues to control the flow of the fight, landing several three-punch combinations, and demonstrating the significant difference in hand speed between the two fighters. Kessler starts the round still cautious, and gets even more conservative as Ward counters effectively.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 4

Ward opens the round with an effective lead left hook that elicits chants of "U.S.A." from the crowd. Halfway through the round, Ward lands a combination to Kessler's body, and follows with the biggest shot of the fight - a right hand that stuns Kessler.

Ironically, if Ward showed any weaknesses tonight, they were most evident in this round. Ward was unable to knock Kessler down while he was hurt, and in his attempts to do so, showed a tendency towards recklessness that may be dangerous in the future. Kessler was also cut under his right eye during the round.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 5

Ward lands two lead left hooks and a nice counter right hand. It becomes evident that one of the most important stylistic differences between the two fighters is the fact that Ward can fight while moving backwards, while Kessler cannot. Kessler lands a few jabs, but Ward wins the round while appearing to rest.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 6

Kessler tries to get back to his original game plan, landing some body shots and focusing on defense. Ward has become the definite aggressor, landing a good lead right early in the round, and a nasty uppercut at the 1:30 mark. Ward also lands two right to the body-left hook to the head combinations late in the round.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 7

Ward continues to dominate, measuring Kessler with a pawing jab, and loading up with the power shots from both a conventional and southpaw stance. Kessler lands one good left hand to the body, but most of his punches are wild.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 8

Ward begins to counter Kessler's body shots, taking away the last tactic that had any effectiveness for Kessler. Ward also lands several hard lead left hooks.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 9

The action continues in much the same fashion, with Ward controlling the fight. Ward seems intent upon a K.O., either for the tournament points or to please the hometown crowd, but he exposes himself more than he should. Kessler, however, cannot take advantage of the opportunities.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 10

Ward continues to press the action, opening cuts around both of Kessler's eyes, one of which is the result of an accidental head butt. The ringside doctor examines Kessler after the round, but allows him to continue.
Ward 10 Kessler 9

Round 11

Ward opens the round with a big right hand. The referee is watching Kessler's cuts closely, and at 1:42 he asks the ringside doctor to examine Kessler again. The doctor stops the fight due to the aggravation of the earlier cut caused by the accidental head butt.

Because the fight was stopped due to a headbutt, a technical decision ensued and the fight went to the scorecards. Two judges scored the fight 98-92, and the third 97-93, all for Ward.

TheDailySportsHerald.com scored it 100-90 on our unofficial scorecard.

After the fight, Kessler complained of vision problems stemming from the headbutts. He also said he was thrown off his rhythm due to the manner in which the referee handled the clinches and infighting.

Meanwhile, Ward earned a career-defining win, a title belt, and 2 points in the Super Six Tournament standings. Arthur Abraham currently is atop the Tournament standings with 3 points thanks to his TKO win over Jermain Taylor.

By David Granger
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

1 comment:

  1. After Ward takes the super 6, I want to see him move up and take on Chad Dawson in a future p4p showdown.


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